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What happened to this woman is exactly why you need time off this Labor Day

Rebecca Bracken is a news and views writer.






Overworked woman dies while napping in car between shifts

This week in New Jersey, 32-year-old Maria Fernandes died while napping in her car between her 4 part-time jobs. You see, the travel between her many gigs, which included two different part-time shifts at different Dunkin Donuts stores, was so extensive, Fernandes kept a gas can in her 2001 Kia Sportage so she could fill up on the go. While she tried to catch a little sleep before going back to work, the poison fumes from the gas can mixed with the exhaust from the running engine and killed her.

"This sounds like someone who tried desperately to work and make ends meet, and met with a tragic accident," said Elizabeth Police Lieutenant Daniel Saulnier.

This story is a heartbreaking example of a woman who was overworked, and it resonates even more when you consider the upcoming Labor Day weekend. For anyone out there who is struggling to make ends meet, taking a break might feel out of the question, but here are some statistics that might change your mind.

What it really means to be a working woman:

More American women are in the workforce than ever: In 1970, there were 31.5 million women in the workforce; in 2012 that number rose to 72.6 million.

Women work in the lowest-paying jobs: Women represent two-thirds of minimum wage workers in the U.S., according to the Women’s Law Center, and at least half of the lowest paid workers in all 50 states.

Women work in the lowest-paying industries: The industries with the most women employed include Education and Health Services, Wholesale and Retail Trade, Professional and Business Services and Leisure and Hospitality.

Women still make way less than men: In 2013, the average weekly salary earned by men was $860, for women, it was $706. According to the White House (http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/equal-pay), women overall earn 77 percent less than their male colleagues.

Women are working later in life: There are nearly twice as many older women aged 55-64 working today as is 1990. They only made up 8.7 percent of the workforce in 1990, and today they represent 16.4 percent of the total labor market.

Bosses are less likely to let women work from home: Women are less likely to be granted flex or work-from-home schedules than men, even to care for kids.

Women are still shouldering the lion's share of the family responsibility: About four in 10 working mothers say they have taken a significant amount of time off from work or cut back hours to care for their family, compared with 24 percent of men, according to Pew Research.

So this long Labor Day weekend, all the working ladies out there, get some well-deserved rest. As these statistics show, you're definitely gonna need it.

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