MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama asked Congress for $2 billion to help states create paid family and medical leave programs.

When it comes to providing paid leave, the U.S. trails almost all developed nations. But critics argue taht paid leave is too expensive and would hurt small businesses.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 11 percent of all private industry workers and 16 percent of government employees have access to some form of paid family leave.

But some cities, in an effort to attract top young talent, are striking out on their own. One of them is St. Paul.

The city just began offering its employees who are new birth mothers four weeks of paid leave, all other new parents get two weeks paid.

The estimated cost to the city is $200,000 a year, but Mayor Chris Coleman says it’s worth it.

“When people take advantage of it, it means that they are staying in their jobs, it means that we can attract talented people, and it means we don’t have to pay those costs associated with hiring someone else or retraining someone else,” he said.

While small business groups argue paid leave is too expensive to offer, St. Paul is part of a slowly growing national trend.

Since 2006, about 15 cities and a handful of states have adopted some form of paid leave policy.

The only other Minnesota city to offer paid leave to its employees is Brooklyn Park.

To see an interview with Mayor Chris Coleman, watch the video above. He talks not only about parental leave, but also about Red Bull Crashed Ice.

Esme Murphy

Comments (4)