A cheery new report (which is so fancy and thorough that it has its own trailer) co-authored by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress has determined that approximately 42 million women in America are teetering on the brink of financial oblivion as they juggle caregiving (for parents as well as children of their own), working low-wage jobs, and not having awesome healthcare choices. Lovely.
In the report's introduction, Shriver makes it clear that these 42 million financially insecure women aren't simply buckling under societal pressure to chase the myth of "having it all" — they're just dealing with the everyday difficulty of trying to make ends meet:
These are not women who are wondering if they can 'have it all. These are women who are already doing it all — working hard, providing, parenting, and care-giving. They're doing it all, yet they and their families can't prosper, and that's weighing the U.S. economy down.
The numbers tell a pretty disheartening story. As we learned in part from the jobs report, women make up a disproportionately high percentage of the low-wage workforce, accounting for two-thirds of all minimum-wage workers in America. And since more than 70 percent of minimum-wage workers receive no paid sick days, a LOT of single, working women are left walking the making-ends-meet highwire without even a shred of a safety net.
Many of the women who responded to the report's survey of 3,500 people regretted not furthering their education, not making better financial decisions, and not postponing having kids. The survey results by-the-numbers looks like this:
75 percent wish they had devoted more time and energy to education and career — relative to 58 percent of the general population.
73 percent wish they had made better financial decisions over the course of their lives — and so did 65 percent of the total survey group.
Low-income women are more likely than men to regret tying the knot when they did — 52 percent versus 33 percent.
And nearly one-third of low-income women with children wish they had postponed having children — or had fewer of them.
These choices, though, are never made in a vacuum (despite what your bootstraps-tugging conservative work acquaintance might tell you), and women at the lower end of the (now virtually unscalable) economic ladder must often choose the lesser of two crap choices just to survive.
You can bet that these regretful survey results are going to get churned into some good Fox News roundtable debate fodder so that conservative commentators with shiny hair can say things like, "You see? It's all about personal choices. These women clearly made bad choices and now their lives are over." That attitude, though, sidesteps the fact that there are still lots of working women — women who are accounting for job growth all by themselves — who are at the mercy of a grim economic landscape and a government at least partially willing to subordinate their rights and privileges to things that grow inside of them.