CHILD CARE RALLY—In this May 6, 2015, file photo Saryah Mitchell, sits with her mother, Teisa, Gay, left, at a rally calling for increased child care subsidies at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

CHILD CARE RALLY—In this May 6, 2015, file photo Saryah Mitchell, sits with her mother, Teisa, Gay, left, at a rally calling for increased child care subsidies at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

WASHINGTON (AP)— THE ISSUE: In much of the U.S., families spend more on child care for two kids than on housing. And if you’re a woman, it’s likely you earn less than your male colleagues even though 1 in 4 households with kids relies on mom as the sole or primary breadwinner. That’s according to the latest research that suggests while the U.S. economy has improved, women and their families are still struggling to make the numbers work.

It’s already illegal to pay women less for the same job or deny them a raise because of their sex, and the pay gap has narrowed dramatically in recent decades. Republicans say tougher regulation would only hurt U.S. businesses—costing Americans jobs—while new taxpayer programs would drive up the deficit.

Democrats say it’s still too easy for employers to hide or deny wage disparities because workers rarely perform identical jobs. And with paid leave scarce and expensive, women and their families are losing out on wages that could be reinvested back into the economy and keep struggling families off government aid.

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