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Women – Minimum Wage

A focus on women and the minimum wage.

The good news now that the economy is improving is that more people have a job. The next aspect of that news as to whether it is seen as good or bad depends upon the eye of the beholder. Many of the jobs are at minimum wage and more women than men comprise the makeup of those wage earners.

On June 2, 2014 money.cnn.com informed us that Seattle’s city council on Monday unanimously approved an increase in the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, making it the nations highest by far.

The National Women’s Law Center reported Women represent nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers — and full-time, year-round work at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour leaves a woman with two children thousands of dollars below the poverty line. We’re working to raise the minimum wage and tipped minimum wage at the federal level and in the states to boost women’s economic security and help close the wage gap.

Passing The Fair Minimum Wage Act and the Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 1737) would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2016, gradually increase the tipped minimum cash wage to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and index both wages to keep up with inflation. If the Fair Minimum Wage Act were implemented half of all tipped workers would see their earnings increase –and women in tipped occupations would make up three-quarters of those workers who would benefit.

The state of Washington already has the highest state minimum wage at $9.32 an hour, well above the federal minimum of $7.25.

The well respected group pewresearch.org, fact tank – our lives in numbers expands our education on this subject.

Substantially more women than men are in jobs that pay the minimum wage or less, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data analyzed by the Pew Research Center. Men make up a larger share of the U.S. labor force than women (53%-47%). But among those who earn the minimum wage or less, 62% are women and 38% are men.

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Congress is debating a hike to the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25 per hour), an idea that has strong support among the American public. Last week, a bill backed by the White House that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 failed to advance in the Senate. (Meanwhile, 21 states and some cities have a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum.)

In 2012, women’s hourly wages were 84% those of men – meaning that women earned about 84 cents for every $1 made by men, a gender pay gap of 16 cents, according to a Pew Research Center report.

Among those paid by the hour, some 5.4% of women (2.1 million workers) made the federal minimum wage or less in 2013. For men, that share is 3.3%, or 1.2 million workers. (Some people may be paid below the federal minimum wage, including those who make tips.) The difference has narrowed since 1979, when the share of hourly workers who earned federal minimum wage or less was 20.2% for women and 7.7% for men.

[pullquoteright] “Most people who would get a raise if we raise the minimum wage are not teenagers on their first job – their average age is 35. A majority of lower-wage jobs are held by women. These Americans are working full-time, often supporting families, and if the minimum wage had kept pace with our economy’s productivity, they’d already be earning well over $10 an hour today. Instead, it’s stuck at $7.25. Every time Congress refuses to raise it, it loses value because the cost of living goes higher, minimum wage stays the same.”………. President Obama, Remarks at Central Connecticut State University, March 5, 2014[/pullquoteright]

This report is shared by The United States Government at whitehouse.gov.

Over the past 30 years, modest minimum wage increases have not kept pace with the rising costs of basic necessities for working families. No one who works full time should have to raise his or her family in poverty. President Obama supports raising the minimum wage to help build real, lasting economic security for the middle class and has made it a key part of his plan to create more opportunities for every hardworking American to get ahead in 2014.

The President knows this is important for workers, and good for the economy. That is why the President has already signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage and tipped minimum wage for federal contract workers and is calling on Congress to raise the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour and index it to inflation thereafter, while also raising the tipped minimum wage for the first time in over 20 years. Increasing the minimum wage and the tipped minimum wage is especially important for women, who make up more than half of the workforce in jobs that pay the minimum wage and tipped occupations. Today, the White House is releasing a new report that lays out how women and the workforce would benefit if Congress passed legislation to raise the national minimum wage and tipped minimum wage for all Americans.

Raising the minimum wage is especially important for women because:

• Women in the workforce are more highly concentrated in low-wage sectors such as personal care and healthcare support occupations.
• Women account for more than half (55 percent) of all workers who would benefit from increasing the minimum wage to $10.10.
• Women account for 72 percent of all workers in predominantly tipped occupations – such as restaurant servers, bartenders, and hairstylists.
• Average hourly wages for workers in predominantly tipped occupations are nearly 40 percent lower than overall average hourly wages.
• Workers in predominantly tipped occupations are twice as likely as other workers to experience poverty, and servers are almost three times as likely to be in poverty.
• About half of all workers in predominantly tipped occupations would see their earnings increase as a result of the President’s proposal.

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The minimum wage was established by Congress in the Fair Labor Standards Act passed in 1938. From the beginning, policymakers never intended the minimum wage be the sole source of household income or provide “livable” support for a family. Rather, the intent was to ensure a reasonable wage for workers who could not command higher pay in the labor market because they had little or no work skills, such as young people just entering the work force.

Raising the full minimum wage and the tipped minimum wage will help reduce poverty among women and their families, as well as make progress toward closing the gender pay gap.

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[alert_blue] Sources: money.cnn.com, usatoday.com, nwlc.org/our-issues/poverty, pewresearch.org, whitehouse.gov, washingtonpolicy.org, thank you Wikimedia commons for the photos.
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