Obama Talks Economy from a Seattle Backyard

By Nkiru Uzodi*

On Thursday, October 21st I jumped on the phone with other NCRW staffers to get the latest dish on women and the economy straight from the source: The White House. Valerie Jarrett, the Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, announced the launch of a new report: Jobs and Economic Security for America’s Women

The report highlights the Obama administration’s economic policies and their impact on women over the past two years. According to the report, even though women are approaching 50% of the workforce and are increasingly becoming primary breadwinners in their families, they continue to face multiple challenges in workforce participation. For instance, the persistent gender wage gap and underrepresentation in higher management despite the fact that women are earning more degrees than men and well positioned to take on such jobs. Women of color, single women and older women in particular face challenges in gaining economic security. To address these issues, the Obama administration has promoted economic expansion and job growth for women; training and educating women for quality jobs; supporting women at home and in their jobs, and supporting women in retirement and between jobs.

During the conference call, Ms. Jarret stated that it is the President’s priority to help prepare, train and educate women on economic participation. She noted that women-owned businesses have benefitted from the Obama Administration policies including (but not limited to) tax credits through the Small Business Jobs Act, the HIRE Act and the Recovery Act. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by Wall Street Reform will help women make smart financial choices by empowering women through financial education and literacy. She further stated that the White House would partner with concerned groups and encouraged those of us on the phone to be the conduits for building such cross-sector partnerships.

Shortly following the call, the White House livestreamed President Obama’s address on women and economy from the backyard of Erik and Cynnie Foss’s home– after stopping for doughnuts in a small shop in downtown Seattle. Obama pointed out that women’s economic issues are middle-class America’s economic issues, because women now contribute more than half of the income going into middle class families. Making references to his family, he said “I think women, because -- at least in my household -- tend to have a better sense of the family budget, they're mindful of how tough not just this recession has been, but the last decade has been on middle-class families.” He mentioned how far this country has come from the times of his grandmother and that while progress has been made, more work still needs to be done.

With a new Congress in place, the Council will be watching to see what work Obama and his administration accomplish regarding women’s economic security.

*Nkiru Uzodi is a Research and Programs Intern with the National Council for Research on Women.

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