April 9 is Equal Pay Day, representing the date in 2013 through which women must work to match what men earned in 2012, thanks to the persistent gap between men’s and women’s median earnings. Women working full time, year round in the United States are paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, and the gap is even wider for women of color; black women working full time, year round are paid only 64 cents, and Hispanic women only 55 cents, for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.
Women are nearly two thirds of minimum wage earners in the United States today and represent a large majority in most of the ten largest low-paying occupations. Women’s concentration in such low-wage jobs is one of the reasons women still typically earn less than men. A woman working full time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour makes just $14,500 in a year – thousands of dollars below the poverty line for a mom with two kids. Pay for tipped workers – like restaurant servers, who are about 70 percent women – can be even lower: the federal tipped minimum cash wage has been frozen at just $2.13 per hour for more than 20 years. Read more »
I walked into a crowded room on Capitol Hill this week to witness my first congressional press conference. Senator Tom Harkin and Representative George Miller were enthusiastic about their legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.
I’ll be graduating from college in a few months, and I’m looking for my first job. But the issue of minimum wage isn’t something I’ve been thinking about. As a college graduate, I’ve been assuming that I’ll be able to find a job that pays well, despite the shaky economy. Amie Crawford, a college graduate and fast-food worker from Chicago stood at the podium and described what it’s like to work hard prepping food for the public but not have enough money to buy food for herself. I was stunned. Amie’s story made me wonder about the millions of other hard-working women who cut back on food, drop their health insurance, and go without child care in order to get by on a minimum wage salary. And I thought about their kids who might go to bed hungry.
Amie Crawford at the intoduction of the Fair Minimum Wage Act
Before the “snowquester” blew into town, I had the pleasure of attending a press conference on the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative George Miller (D-CA) introduced on Tuesday. The Fair Minimum Wage Act would gradually raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, increase the minimum cash wage for tipped workers from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage, and index these wages to keep up with inflation.
I was excited to be present for the introduction because I believe this bill is hugely important, especially for women. If you ask me why, I might be inclined to rattle off a few numbers: women are 2/3 of minimum wage workers in the U.S., women are the majority of the workforce in the 10 occupations paying less than $10.10/hour, women working full time, year round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts…the list goes on. But listening to the speakers at yesterday’s event brought home what those numbers mean for real people, whose stories are more powerful than any statistics.
One of those stories was Amie’s. Amie Crawford might not strike you as the typical minimum wage worker: she has a college degree and worked as an interior designer for decades before the recession hit. Amie herself “used to think that minimum wage jobs were for other people…They weren’t me. They had less education, fewer skills. They didn’t work as hard or try as hard.” Then Amie’s life changed—and she acknowledged, “I couldn’t have been more wrong.” Read more »
I write an awful lot about why it’s so important for women to raise the federal minimum wage, so I’m especially excited to head to Capitol Hill today for a press conference on the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative George Miller (D-CA) will introduce at noon. Introducing this crucial legislation is an essential first step towards fairer pay for millions of women across the country.
The Fair Minimum Wage Act would gradually raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, increase the minimum cash wage for tipped workers from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage, and index these wages to keep up with inflation. Women especially stand to benefit from this proposal because they are about two-thirds of workers earning the federal minimum wage or less – and they are the majority of workers in the ten largest occupations that typically pay less than $10.10 per hour. As new analysis from NWLC shows, women are at least two-thirds of the workforce in seven of those ten occupations:
Women’s concentration in such low-wage jobs is one of the reasons we still see a large gap between women’s and men’s typical earnings: American women who work full time, year round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, and the wage gap is even wider for women of color. Read more »
It’s been a busy few weeks on the minimum wage front, as policymakers in a slew of states have moved to raise wages for low-paid workers. If you follow our blog, you already know that minimum wage increases are on the agenda in Maryland and New York – and you know that this is especially good news for women, who make up the majority of minimum wage workers in those states and across the country.
While a federal minimum wage increase – like the one proposed in the Fair Minimum Wage Act last year – is needed to boost pay for minimum wage and tipped workers throughout the U.S., it’s great to see momentum building at the state level. Here’s a quick run-down of recent developments:
California. A bill pending in the Assembly, AB-10, would increase the minimum wage from $8.00 per hour to $8.25 in 2014, $8.75 in 2015, and $9.25 in 2016, then adjust the wage annually for inflation beginning in 2017.
Connecticut. A bill pending in the Senate, S.B. 387, would raise the minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to $9.00 in July 2013 and $9.75 in July 2014, with annual indexing beginning in July 2015. NWLC’s new fact sheet shows that over 246,000 Connecticut workers would get a raise by 2014 under this proposal – and about six in ten of those workers would be women.
Analysis by the Economic Policy Institute reveals that nearly one million workers will get a raise from these increases. In each state, women are the majority of the workers who will see their wages go up. The impact on women is the largest in Missouri where they are nearly three-quarters of the workers who will benefit from the increased minimum wage. The economies of these states will also benefit — the increase in minimum wages will add nearly $184 million to GDP in 2013.
Here in D.C. and across the country, election results consume the headlines, even as many of us breathe a sigh of relief that the long campaign season is over. But in addition to the big-ticket races on Election Day, there were a number of ballot initiatives in cities and states that are less publicized nationally but no less important to the people affected. These include three municipal ballot measures – in Albuquerque, San Jose, and Long Beach – to raise the minimum wage. All three passed with substantial majorities, meaning many low-wage workers in these cities will soon find it a bit easier to make ends meet. Specifically:
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the minimum wage will rise from $7.50 to $8.50 per hour in January 2013, and will automatically adjust in future years to keep up with inflation. New Mexico Voices for Children estimates that 40,000 workers (one-seventh of Albuquerque’s workforce) will see higher paychecks as a result – generating about $18 million in consumer spending and helping to create new jobs as businesses expand to meet the increased demand.
A long holiday weekend is nearly upon us, and I’ll admit, my mind is wandering a bit today to non-work-related thoughts of beaches and barbecues. But before we all head off to celebrate a Labor Day free of labor, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at the origins of this end-of-summer tradition.
According to the Department of Labor, “Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” The first Labor Day was celebrated on September 5, 1882, in New York City, and was organized by the Central Labor Union, which later urged labor organizations in other cities to celebrate an annual “workingmen’s holiday” on the first Monday in September.
Of course, today we recognize that it is not only “workingmen,” but also millions of working women who have made great contributions “to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” After decades of historic strides, women now make up about half of the U.S. workforce, and have entered into fields from manufacturing to medicine in numbers that many would not have imagined a generation ago. Read more »
Over the past few years, we’ve all heard a lot of people blame a lot of different things for high unemployment. Is it high taxes? Burdensome regulations? An angry jobs monster?
This week, Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post reviewed economic evidence which reveals that the biggest driver of high unemployment is low demand. Over 8 percent of Americans are unemployed, and lower-income and middle-class Americans have seen their income and wealth decrease over the last decade. So as you might imagine, many are pinching their pennies and spending less on goods and services. The end result is that businesses don’t have enough money or confidence to hire more workers.
The key, then, to really chipping into high unemployment numbers is creating more demand for goods and services. Matthews suggests looser monetary policy and fiscal stimulus. Here’s another idea: increase the minimum wage. Read more »