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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

Amie’s Story

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: March 06, 2013 at 03:43 pm

Amie Crawford

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.”

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Good News for 17 Million Women: Fair Minimum Wage Act To Be Introduced Today

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: March 05, 2013 at 11:40 am

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:

The 10 larges jobs that pay under $10.10/hour, by share of women

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.

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North Carolina has Fifth Highest State Unemployment Rate, but Cuts UI Benefits for Women and Men

Posted by | Posted on: February 20, 2013 at 04:31 pm

In 2012, North Carolina had an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent – the fifth highest state unemployment rate last year. Yet, just yesterday, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed into law a bill that will dramatically cut unemployment insurance (UI) in the state starting July 1st.

The cuts in the new law are harmful for everyone, but especially for women. In 2012, the unemployment rate was 9.6 percent for women in North Carolina, substantially higher than the rate for men (8.8 percent). Unemployment rates among black men (17.7 percent), black women (13.8 percent), and Hispanic women (11.4 percent) were also much higher than the North Carolina state average. In addition, the law restricts eligibility by, for example, disqualifying workers from benefits if they have to leave a job for health reasons or because of undue family hardship – a change that will particularly impact women.

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Kick 70,000 Kids Off Head Start (for Starters) or Make Millionaires Pay a Fair Share - Senators Will Decide Soon

Yesterday, Senate Democrats proposed a plan to postpone across-the-board spending cuts — known inside the beltway as the “sequester” — that are currently scheduled to take effect in just two weeks, on March 1. The bill, called the American Family Economic Protection Act, includes $120 billion of savings — enough to replace the sequester through the end of calendar year 2013. 

Unlike the sequester, which reduces the deficit solely through deep spending cuts (on top of earlier spending cuts that are 2.5 times greater than new revenues), the American Family Economic Protection Act achieves savings from an equal amount of revenues and cuts (plus about $10 billion in interest savings). The bill would raise $54 billion over 10 years by adopting the “Buffett rule,” a measure that would ensure very wealthy taxpayers cannot get away with paying taxes at a lower effective rate than middle class families. Those with incomes above $1 million (after subtracting charitable contributions) would be required to pay at least a 30 percent tax rate, with a phase-in for incomes between $1 million and $2 million. An additional $1 billion in revenue would be raised by eliminating an oil industry tax loophole and a tax deduction for businesses that ship jobs overseas. 

On the spending side, savings in the bill would come mostly from modest reductions in the overall level of defense spending — which would not begin until FY 2015, when the war in Afghanistan is expected to end – and cuts in agriculture subsidies, especially direct payments to farmers that are currently provided regardless of yields, prices, or farm income.  

All in all, this sounds like a reasonable proposal to us — especially compared to the sequester, which would be devastating for many programs that women and their families depend on.

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New Jersey Voters to Decide on Minimum Wage Increase

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: February 15, 2013 at 02:51 pm

Momentum continues to build around a minimum wage increase in the days following President Obama’s call to raise the federal level. Today brings good news from the Garden State, where the New Jersey Assembly just approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would raise the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour, then adjust the wage annually to keep up with inflation. The Senate approved the same proposal last week. Whether New Jersey workers get a raise is now up to the voters: the amendment will be on the ballot this November. (State lawmakers adopted the constitutional amendment strategy after Governor Christie issued a conditional veto of the minimum wage bill the legislature passed last year; the governor has no role in the amendment process.)

A minimum wage of $8.25 per hour would increase a full-time minimum wage worker’s annual pay from $14,500 to $16,500. This $2,000 boost would still not be enough to lift a family of three above the poverty line, and it definitely falls short of a living wage in a state as expensive as New Jersey. Moreover, the proposed constitutional amendment would not change New Jersey’s minimum cash wage for tipped workers, which is just $2.13 per hour. (Though employers would be required to ensure their tipped employees are paid $8.25 per hour, tipped workers are often paid less than the minimum wage due to wage theft and other illegal practices.) Nonetheless, a $1.00 per hour increase in New Jersey’s minimum wage would be an important step in the right direction – and indexing wages to inflation would help ensure that these very modest gains are not erased as the cost of living rises.

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