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Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Senior Policy Analyst

Katherine Gallagher Robbins

Katherine Gallagher Robbins is a Senior Policy Analyst for Family Economic Security at the National Women’s Law Center where she examines how tax and budget policies influence the financial stability and security of low-income women and families.  Before joining the Center in 2010, Ms. Gallagher Robbins worked as an organizer for the California Public Interest Research Group at the University of California, San Diego. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a graduate of the College of William and Mary.

My Take

The Story Behind the Numbers: Poverty

Posted by | Posted on: September 16, 2013 at 08:54 am

This week, the Census Bureau will release new data on poverty, income, and health insurance in the U.S. in 2012. As we get ready to crunch numbers, we thought it would be helpful to take a deeper look at what these numbers tell us – and don’t tell us – about poverty. Here are a few FAQs on poverty and the Census Bureau data.

What does the poverty rate measure?

The poverty rate measures the percentage of the U.S. population with income below the federal poverty threshold, often referred to as the “poverty line,” for their family size (e.g., $23,283 in 2012 for a family of four with two kids). Income is calculated before taxes and includes only cash income such as earnings, pension/retirement income, Social Security, unemployment benefits, and child support payments.


Hanna Rosin Says The Wage Gap Is A Lie. That’s Just Plain Wrong.

Each September the U.S. Census Bureau puts out information on the annual earnings of male and female workers. We’ll soon know the numbers for 2012, but we already know that in 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, women working full time, year round were typically paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts – a loss of $11,084 in 2011.


60 Percent of Women’s Job Gains in the Recovery are in Low-Wage Jobs - Six Things You Need to Know About This Recovery

Posted by | Posted on: July 24, 2013 at 12:16 pm

A new analysis released by NWLC today reveals a startling new fact: 60 percent of women’s job gains in the recovery are in low-wage jobs. That’s right: 60 percent. Twenty percent of men’s job gains in the recovery are in low-wage jobs.

60% of Women’s Job Gains in the Recovery Are in Low-Wage Jobs

Here are the top six things you need to know about the kinds of jobs women and men are gaining in the recovery:

1. These jobs are in a variety of industries – but they are mostly service jobs.

We examined the 10 largest low-wage jobs (defined in this analysis as jobs that typically pay less than $10.10 per hour).  That list includes childcare workers; maids and housekeepers; home health aides; personal care aides; cashiers; waiters and waitresses; combined food preparers and servers; bartenders; food preparation workers; and hand packers and packagers.

2. The massive gain in low-wage jobs represents a sharp downward trend for women workers.

Sixty percent of the total net increase in employment for women between 2009, the first year of the recovery, and 2012 came in these 10 jobs.  This represents disproportionate growth in low-wage jobs, since these jobs employed less than 15 percent of all working women in 2009.


D.C. Retail Workers Deserve a Living Wage

Posted by Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Senior Policy Analyst | Posted on: June 20, 2013 at 02:05 pm

Anyone who lives here can tell you that D.C. is a pricey place. In fact, D.C. was just ranked the nation's sixth most expensive city — the cost of living here is almost 45 percent higher than the national average and housing is an astounding 2.5 times higher. 

These sky high costs make it incredibly difficult to get by for D.C.'s low-wage workers. Boosting the wages of these workers would be a win-win for the District, increasing economic security for these families while also injecting money into the local economy. A bill currently under consideration by the D.C. Council, The Large Retailer Accountability Act of 2013, would do just this for the District's retail workers employed by some of the largest companies in the country, raising these workers' earnings to a living wage of $12.50 per hour. 

This bill would make a big difference to the city's thousands of retail workers, who live on wages that barely allow them to make ends meet. According to the DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI), "retail workers in the city are three times as likely as others to live in poverty."


New NWLC Analysis Brings Media Attention to the Minimum Wage/Fair Pay Connection

Posted by Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Senior Policy Analyst | Posted on: June 06, 2013 at 05:04 pm
States with the 10 smallest wage gaps | Chart courtesy of ThinkProgress

You probably knew that raising the minimum wage would help families escape poverty. But did you think that states with higher minimum wages would also have smaller wage gaps? If so, you’d be right! Yesterday NWLC released a new analysis showing that the average gender wage gap in states with minimum wages above $7.25 per hour (the minimum required by the federal government) is three cents smaller than the average wage gap in states with minimum wages of just $7.25. Three cents might not sound like a lot but if we shaved three cents off the national wage gap of 23 cents we would close it by over 13 percent!

We also showed that among the ten states with the widest wage gaps in 2011, only two had minimum wages above $7.25. Seven of the ten states with the narrowest wage gaps in 2011 had minimum wages above the federal level of $7.25 per hour.

This analysis has already received coverage in The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, Think Progress, The Week Magazine, Pew Stateline, and several state outlets. We’re excited that the connection between the minimum wage and the wage gap is getting such great attention.