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WOMEN WANT THEIR JOBS TO COUNT

As a group, Utah's 414,000 working women make up 45 percent of the state's employees, and 63.5 percent of Utah women work compared with a national average of 58.8 percent.

Lecia Parks Langston, chief economist for the Utah Job Service, says what is not reflected by those statistics is how many mothers in the state also have jobs outside the home.More than half of Utah preschoolers and three of every four school-age children in the state have mothers who work, she said.

The statistics, Langston says, have important implications for workplace policymakers faced with such issues as family leave and child care.

"Most of the time we think of them as women's issues, and they are not women's issues," she said. "They are family issues."

Langston is not alone in her concern: The plight of women in the workplace has become an issue of national importance.

The Women's Bureau, an agency of the U.S. Labor Department, has spent more than a year gathering and examining results of its nationwide "Working Women Count" survey.

The bureau was expected to make recommendations to President Clinton Monday based on more than 250,000 responses to its survey last year, as well as a telephone poll of more than 1,000.

Bureau spokeswoman Lauren Asher said the survey results continually raised the same concerns, regardless of where the respondents live, what jobs they do, what they earn, their race or their age.

"There was an amazing consensus among working women," Asher said. "These issues ought to be front and center" of the American agenda.

Based on preliminary findings of the survey that were released earlier this year, women say they often are their family's breadwinners but do not enjoy the pay and benefits males do.

In general, women's priorities for change centered on improving pay and benefits, balancing work and family and valuing jobs women perform.

U.S. Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich is at the forefront of those sharing those concerns.

In his cover letter for the initial Working Women Count survey results, Reich noted all working people want the opportunity and resources to lead full and productive lives.

"They want to be treated not as disposable parts, but as essential assets," he wrote. "And they want to work in an environment that treats them with dignity, respects the importance of their families, and invests in their skills."