| WASHINGTON, June 20
WASHINGTON, June 20 The United States could
boost its sagging labor force participation rate and get more
people back to work - if more businesses had family friendly
policies such as paid maternity and paternity leave, the White
House said in a report on Friday.
"Trying to balance breadwinning and caregiving
responsibilities without the support of work-family policies
designed to help families navigate these complexities is leaving
too many families stressed, exhausted, and burdened by
work-family conflict," the White House said.
The report was timed ahead of Monday's "summit on working
families" in Washington, where Obama will promote policies such
as raising the minimum wage and expanding access to childcare.
Republicans have said the proposals would hurt jobs, but
Obama, who is seeking to boost Democratic fortunes before the
midterm elections in November, argues the measures would help
The U.S. economy has showed signs of recovery since the
recession ended in 2009, with unemployment at a five-and-a-half
year low of 6.3 percent in May, the most recent measure.
But the benefits of the low unemployment rate are offset by
concerns over a 62.8 percent labor force participation rate -
the lowest rate in 36 years - a sign that some workers have
become discouraged and dropped out of the labor force.
The White House argues family structures have changed
dramatically in recent decades, but workplaces have not.
More than 40 percent of mothers are the household
breadwinners, while the number of stay-at-home dads has doubled
in the last 25 years, and fathers are working more hours on
housework and childcare, the report said.
More people have to care for young children as well as older
relatives. A third of workers have chosen not to take a job
because of family conflicts, the White House said.
"The lesson is clear: if we want to increase the pace of
economic growth we should make it easier for more men and women
to participate in the labor force," the report said.
The United States is one of only three countries that does
not offer mandatory paid parental leave policies, the report
said, and only about a tenth of employers in the private sector
choose to offer paid leave for family circumstances.
(Reporting By Annika McGinnis; editing by Gunna Dickson)