Advocacy groups fight for higher wages for women - - Jackson, MS

Advocacy groups fight for higher wages for women

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Women receiving fair wages was the focus of a public hearing Wednesday night in Jackson. It addressed barriers that keep women and their families in poverty.   

One year ago the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act took affect. It is aimed at transforming federally funded job training programs to ensure that everyone can receive skills and training for middle class incomes. But according to some in Mississippi, women still aren't getting a fair chance.

"Women are earning less than men at every education level," said  Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act team member Carol Burnett.

That is a message to state planners on the obstacles facing women seeking employment.

 Various groups shared information to create a four year workforce development plan for the state during the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act public hearing. Burnett, who is also Executive Director of MS Low Income Child Care Initiative, reports that lower wages cause families headed by women to battle poverty.

Some women's advocacy groups say state job training and employment referral offices steer women into lower paying careers.

"When a woman is the single wage earner in the family and the children are relying on her, she needs a job that is gonna pay enough money to support her family so the other comment we made tonight was the need for affordable childcare," added Burnett.

According to the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative, women in Mississippi make up 50% of the workforce but hold 80% of minimum wage jobs.

"Many women are finding it necessary to move to other states in order to be able to make a living wage so that they can take care of their children," said hearing participant Jearlean Osbourn.

"Women are pursing degrees in lower paying female dominated career pathways," said Women's Foundation of MS Deputy Director Jamie Bardwell. "Half of the women surveyed have no idea what the wage will be in their field of study after they get a job."

 Officials say Mississippi has a 36% gap in demand versus availability for middle skill jobs like manufacturing. These agencies recommend that women also chose job training in construction, truck driving and other non-traditional female careers.

A Women's Policy Agenda is being formulated from statewide town hall meetings to present to the legislature in January.

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