The current recession is having a devastating impact on our nation’s most vulnerable families. Nearly a million single moms are out of work and their families are suffering. The fact that they are receiving pink slips in greater numbers than in prior recessions has serious implications for family economic well-being.

The Joint Economic Committee, of which I am Chair, released a report last week which finds that the increases in unemployment during this recession have been especially steep for female heads of household – mothers who are solely responsible for maintaining their families’ economic security. The JEC report also reveals that families are relying more and more on women’s employment, but the trend of rising job losses among women will put an even greater strain on households struggling to make ends meet in this downturn.

Last year, the JEC released another report which showed that in the economic recovery following the 2001 recession, women did not see their employment rates return to pre-recessionary levels. Without additional policy measures, the one in ten female heads of household who are currently unemployed could be facing economic hardship long after we consider this recession to be over.

The measures in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that are starting to kick-in will help families in need, create or save jobs in healthcare and education fields which are dominated by women, and provide job training for displaced workers. The extended unemployment benefits, nutrition assistance programs, preservation of Medicaid benefits and tax cuts in the recovery package will bring immediate relief for these families.

We need to do all this and more to help women and their families weather this downturn.