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Axios' Kim Hart and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Photo: Axios

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said that federally funded paid parental leave could boost small businesses who would otherwise be unable to offer the benefit to employees, while speaking at an Axios virtual event on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Nearly a million American mothers have left the workforce during the pandemic and women's labor force participation is at a 33-year low. Some of the decline has been attributed to more women quitting their jobs, at least temporarily, to take care of their children.

The big picture: President Trump was the first Republican president to call for paid family leave, signaling bipartisan interest in creating legislation, per the New York Times. The bill he supported while in office was more limited than Democrats' proposals.

What she's saying: "I think companies that want to retain their workforce and keep a positive, healthy work environment are offering paid leave, but the real challenge is it's hard for a small business to offer paid leave on its own," she said.

  • "It's hard to compete with the super successful large businesses that can offer it. And so the reason why national paid leave is such an elegant solution is that it's very inexpensive."
  • "If it's a national program, it only costs two dollars a week for each employee with within a year. That's one hundred and four dollars a year per employee to set aside so they can have paid leave when they need it. And for that employee to match it, it's affordable."
  • "And it's this levels the playing field and allow small businesses to compete with the big businesses who can already afford it. But the biggest businesses that want to retain women, want to retain diversity, want to retain a complex workforce."

Watch the full event here.

Go deeper

Apr 13, 2021 - Sports

U.S. women's soccer team wins partial deal on equality

U.S. women's soccer stars Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan celebrate winning the SheBelieves Cup at Exploria Stadium on in Orlando, Florida, in February. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

A federal judge approved a partial agreement between the U.S. Soccer Federation and the women's national team on unequal working conditions, per AP.

Why it matters: The approval clears the way for the U.S. Women's National Team (USWNT) to appeal a ruling last May against the world champions on equal pay returns.

Apr 13, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Iowa isn't getting it on: Births on track to fall again

Data: Iowa Department of Public Health; Chart: Axios Visuals

Total births in Iowa were down in 2020 for the sixth consecutive year and are on track to sink lower this year, according to preliminary state data released this month.

Why it matters: Iowa has struggled with a relatively stagnant statewide population growth for years and that could impact our economy.

  • Our labor force participation rate is expected to decline because of demographic shifts, including slow birth rate, according to a 2020 Iowa Workforce Development report.

Pelosi demands Barr and Sessions testify on data subpoenas

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during an event San Francisco, California, on Friday. Photo: Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told CNN Sunday that former Attorneys General William Barr and Jeff Sessions should testify before Congress on reports that the Trump-era Department of Justice seized Democrats' and journalists' data records.

Driving the news: DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced Friday an internal investigation into the matter, and Pelosi expressed disbelief to CNN's Dana Brash at assertions that neither Barr nor Sessions knew of probes into lawmakers.