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Raise the Minimum Wage and Narrow the Wage Gap

There are currently two major pieces of legislation in Congress that would help close the wage gap. One is the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA), which is scheduled for a vote soon. The PFA would strengthen current laws against wage discrimination by protecting employees who voluntarily share pay information with colleagues from retaliation, fully compensating victims of sex-based pay discrimination, empowering women and girls by strengthening their negotiation skills, and holding employers more accountable under the Equal Pay Act. The other is one that you might not think of: the Rebuild America Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage from just $7.25 per hour to $9.80 per hour, giving a raise to millions of women workers.

Each year, millions of workers struggle to make ends meet on minimum wage earnings. Roughly two-thirds of these workers are women. They provide care for children and elders, clean homes and offices, and wait tables.

A woman who works full time, year round at the federal minimum wage is paid only about $14,500 a year. Most women making the minimum wage don’t have a spouse’s income to rely on, and if she has children, the minimum wage isn’t enough to pull her and her family out of poverty.

While many may think that the issues of a fair minimum wage and closing the wage gap are separate – they are actually closely related. One of the reasons the wage gap exists is because of the concentration of women in low-wage jobs. This is one of many factors that contributes to the wage gap. In 2010, the typical woman working full time, year round was paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart. This long-standing wage gap is connected to the low-wages many women receive. Black and Hispanic women make up a disproportionate share of female minimum wage workers as well. Not surprisingly, the wage gaps for black and Hispanic women are much worse than the overall figure.

Congress is long overdue on taking action on this important issue for women. Encourage your member of Congress to pass the Rebuild America Act and pass the PFA.

This blog is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

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