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Six New Facts on Why We Must Raise the Minimum Wage and Advance Equal Pay

We like numbers! We’ve previously identified 10 reasons why raising the minimum wage is a women’s issue. Well, we’ve been crunching some new employment and wage data and wanted to share these new six facts (and a chart!) that underscore why it’s critical to raise the minimum wage and advance equal pay and equal opportunity for women:

  • Three-quarters: The share of workers in the 10 largest low-wage occupations (defined in this analysis as those with median hourly wages of less than $10.10 per hour) who are women (76 percent), compared to 47 percent of all workers who are women.
  • Two times larger: Share of the total net increase in women’s employment between 2009, the first year of the recovery, and 2013 that was in the 10 largest low-wage jobs (35 percent) compared to men’s share of the net increase in employment that was in these low-wage jobs (18 percent).
  • 37 percent: The share of workers in the 10 largest low-wage occupations who are women of color, compared to 16 percent of all workers.
  • One-quarter: The share of workers in the 10 largest low-wage occupations who are mothers with children under 18 (24 percent), compared to just over 16 percent of all workers.
  • 10 cents: The size of the average wage gap in the 10 largest low-wage job categories. In the 10 largest low-wage occupations, women working full time were typically paid only 90.4 percent of what their male counterparts were paid each week – an average wage gap of 9.6 cents.
  • Three: The number of job categories out of 111 in which the median weekly earnings of women working full time were not lower than those of men: computer occupations; wholesale and retail buyers; and bakers.

The 10 largest low-wage occupations and the percentage of women in each occupation are: childcare workers (95%); home health aides (89%); maids and housekeepers (88%); personal care aides (84%); cashiers (72%); waiters and waitresses (70%); combined food preparers and servers (65%); bartenders (58%); food preparation workers (56%); and hand packers and packagers (49%).   

 

Sources: Wage gap, share of women by occupation, growth in annual average employment: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Current Population Survey, annual average data for 2009-2013. Wage gaps are based on median weekly earnings for full-time workers. Workforce demographics: NWLC calculations based on IPUMS-CPS (2013) for 2012. Classification of 10 largest occupations with median wages of less than $10.10 per hour: BLS, Occupational Employment Statistics.

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