12/23/2015 16:30 EST | Updated 12/23/2016 00:12 EST

Despite financial challenges, paid parental leave programs starting to expand in US cities

NEW YORK — President Barack Obama urged states and cities to join him in expanding benefits to new mothers and fathers when he signed an executive order this year directing agencies to allow federal workers to take six weeks of paid leave to care for a newborn.

Progress has been slow — but momentum is building.

This week, New York City became one of a handful of cities to move to grant six weeks of paid leave. Others that already have include Pittsburgh and Austin, Texas.

Other cities have adopted smaller measures, while some private companies have created generous, multi-month packages.

But many municipalities haven't launched programs because of financial or political constraints.

The U.S. is one of a few countries that don't offer paid maternity leave.

Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press