Attorney General Ellison forms Task Force on Expanding Economic Security of Women
Solicits applications through Open Appointments process by early January
November 19, 2020 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that he is forming a new Task Force on Expanding the Economic Security of Women in Minnesota. He is soliciting applications to serve on the Task Force through the State of Minnesota Open Appointments process. The deadline for applying is January 4, 2021.
“Affording your life is hard enough. It’s especially tough for women in an economy that’s stacked against them,” Attorney General Ellison said. “Women are still paid less than men for the same work, still pay more than men for similar goods and services, and still bear the burden of school and childcare far more than men. Among all women, inequalities for women of color are greatest. The COVID-19 pandemic has made those inequalities even worse.
“Women’s economic insecurity isn’t just an economic wrong — it’s a moral wrong that hurts all of us. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Minnesota has led the way on economic equality and opportunity before: with this task force, I want us to lead again,” Attorney General Ellison concluded.
The state of women’s economic security
Each year, women’s participation in the economy adds an estimated $7.6 trillion to our nation’s gross domestic product. Working mothers are significant contributors to their families’ financial security: in 2019, 71 percent of mothers in Minnesota were primary or co-breadwinner, earning a substantial portion of their family’s income.
Despite women’s contributions, the economy does not deliver the same returns for women as it does for men. Nationally, women are still paid less than men, are over-represented in low-paying jobs, take on the majority of unpaid caregiving and housework, and are more likely to live in poverty.
In Minnesota, women continue to face significant barriers to achieving their full potential in the economy.
- Minnesota women on average make 79 cents for every dollar that men make.
- The wage gap is even larger for Native and women of color. Latina, Native, and Black women earn 54, 54, and 61 cents, respectively, for every dollar that white men earn.
- Women make up the majority of workers paid at or below the minimum wage.
- Women are underrepresented in high-paying STEM jobs.
- The shortage of affordable child care and the lack of widespread paid family leave further disadvantages women economically.
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit women with what the New York Times has called a “one-two-three punch:” first, jobs were lost in sectors of the economy like hospitality, retail, and health care where women dominate; second, jobs lost in government layoffs because of reduced revenue disproportionately affected women; and third, the burden of closed child- care centers and remote schooling has largely fallen on women, which further hurts their economic security. CNN has reported that the pandemic is hitting women of color hardest.
In 2014, Governor Mark Dayton signed the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA), which expanded economic opportunity and strengthened workplace protections for women. However, more needs to be done to build on the achievements of WESA and create a more inclusive economy in Minnesota. In that spirit, Attorney General Keith Ellison is creating the Task Force on Expanding the Economic Security of Women in Minnesota.
Scope of the Task Force
Members of the Task Force will have three charges:
- Identify the barriers that prevent gender equity in the workplace and limit women's equal participation in the economy, including: gendered-based pricing (the “Pink Tax”) in consumer goods and services, barriers that fall disproportionately on women of color and immigrant women, and the disproportionate economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women;
- Explore best practices to advance the economy security of women; and
- Develop a comprehensive set of recommendations that protect and support women's economic security in Minnesota.
Applying for the Task Force
Eleven positions on the 15-member Task Force will be filled through the State of Minnesota Open Appointments process. Attorney General Ellison is seeking people from the following backgrounds to serve:
- 4 advocates for women, including from advocacy groups, non-profits, and labor unions;
- 3 researchers or academics who specialize in issues that affect the economic security of women, including but not limited to workplace justice, job quality, and income security;
- 4 Minnesotans of any background with an interest in the topic: two from the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metro area and two from Greater Minnesota.
The four remaining positions on the Task Force will be reserved for two state legislators and one representative each of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
People interested in serving on the Task Force may apply by through January 4, 2021 via the Open Appointments process on the Secretary of State’s website.