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Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel

Julie Vogtman is Senior Counsel for the Family Economic Security Program at the National Women’s Law Center. She works on a range of issues involving economic support for low-income women and their families, including minimum wage policies, unemployment benefits, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). She also contributes to the Center’s work on federal budget and tax policies, including implementation of the tax credit components of the Affordable Care Act.  Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Vogtman was an associate with Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of Furman University and Georgetown University Law Center.

My Take

Can Your Family Live on the Minimum Wage? Mine Can't.

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: July 24, 2014 at 11:18 am

Today is July 24th – five years to the day since the federal minimum wage last went up. At $7.25 per hour, the current minimum wage typically leaves a full-time worker with just $77 per week to spend after accounting for housing costs and taxes. To shed light on what that kind of income really means for working families, advocates across the country, including NWLC, are promoting the “Live the Wage” challenge. From today through July 30, participants in the challenge will attempt to live on a minimum wage budget – just $77 to cover food, transportation, and other expenses for the entire week.

The Live the Wage challenge presents an important opportunity to grasp the daily struggles facing low-wage workers, and I hope huge numbers participate. But for me, I know taking the challenge means failure on the very first day. That’s because I’m a new mom, just recently back at work, and I have a staggering new expense in my weekly budget: child care.

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The President - And the American People - Call for a Higher Minimum Wage

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: January 29, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Did you catch the President’s State of the Union address last night?  I’m glad I did. He set forth an ambitious but pragmatic agenda to reverse the trends of widening economic inequality and stalling wage growth and upward mobility. Many of the solutions he proposed – like expanding access to affordable, quality pre-K and promoting more family-friendly workplaces – would particularly benefit women. The same is true of another policy for which the President advocated forcefully: raising the minimum wage.

As the President observed, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour “is worth about twenty percent less than it was when Ronald Reagan [took office].” Full-time minimum wage earnings amount to just $14,500 in a year, leaving a mother with two children thousands of dollars below the poverty line. Today’s low minimum wage especially harms women and their families, since women are nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers – and about two-thirds of tipped workers like restaurant servers, for whom the federal minimum cash wage has been frozen at just $2.13 an hour for 23 years.

Last night, President Obama committed to using his executive authority to advance the minimum wage by issuing an order requiring that workers on new federal services contracts be paid at least $10.10 an hour, “because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.” And he called on business leaders and state and local governments to do what they can to raise wages, too. But he also recognized that only an act of Congress can ensure that the minimum wage is raised for all workers across the country.

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Update: Senate Moves Forward with Unemployment Insurance Bill - But Critical Votes Still to Come

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: January 08, 2014 at 11:10 am

Yesterday, 60 Senators voted to proceed to debate on a bill to extend the federal emergency unemployment insurance program for three months. This measure is urgently needed to restore a lifeline to the 1.3 million long-term unemployed workers who lost their benefits over the holidays, and today’s bipartisan vote is an important step in the right direction.

Final passage of the bill, however, is still far from assured. Amendments will be considered in the Senate that could undermine the bill by, for example, requiring jobless workers to meet burdensome new conditions to continue receiving benefits. Some Senators will likely propose offsetting the cost of the bill with cuts to other programs that low-income families depend on. And the bill will still need to garner 60 votes to pass in the Senate, then pass the House, before it can reach the President’s desk.

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Welcome Back, Congress. Now Let’s Get to Work and Renew UI.

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: January 06, 2014 at 01:49 pm

It’s the first Monday in 2014. I’ve taken down the decorations, put away the gifts, and made my resolutions – but the surest sign that the holidays are officially over is that Members of Congress are returning from recess. And that’s a good thing, because they have a lot of work to do.

Congress’s first priority for the new year should be renewing the federal emergency unemployment insurance (UI) program for long-term jobless workers. Because Congress failed to reauthorize this program before the end of 2013, 1.3 million people and their families lost their benefits on December 28, and are now going without a crucial source of income. And if Congress fails to maintain the program this year, 3.6 million more workers will lose access to benefits by the end of 2014 – pulling billions of dollars out of the economy, slowing job growth, and placing families at risk of falling into poverty.

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Minimum Wage Rates Go Up In 13 States for 2014, Increasing Wages for More than 2.5 Million Workers

Posted by | Posted on: January 03, 2014 at 01:15 pm

The minimum wage rose in thirteen states at the start of 2014. New Jersey saw the largest boost of $1 per hour thanks to New Jersey voters, who overwhelmingly approved the wage increase on the state’s ballot in November. Minimum wages have also gone up in Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island due to legislative action in 2013. (California also enacted a minimum wage increase in 2013, which will begin to phase in on July 1.) Minimum wages in the other nine states – Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington – increased automatically because they are indexed to inflation, a policy that ensures the minimum wage keeps pace with the rising cost of living.

According to analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, more than 2.5 million workers will get a raise from the increases that went into effect on January 1. In nearly every affected state, women are a majority of minimum wage workers. The economies of these states will also benefit: the higher minimum wages will add more than $619 million to GDP in 2014.

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