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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

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.


What Would You Spend Money On: Fighting Over the Debt Limit or Child Care for Military Dependents?

Posted by Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Senior Policy Analyst | Posted on: May 21, 2013 at 03:15 pm

Here we go again. After a three month hiatus, the debt ceiling has gone back into effect and the federal government officially hit the limit last Sunday. This means the Treasury has begun its extraordinary measures to keep us from defaulting. These measures will extend the time until we would actually default until sometime after the summer — but the debt limit brinksmanship still has consequences. In fact, the Government Accountability Office estimates [PDF] last time we were in this situation "delays in raising the debt limit in 2011 led to an increase in Treasury's borrowing costs of about $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2011." 

But what does $1.3 billion really mean? How about this: $1.3 billion is the annual base budget for the Department of Defense's Child Care and Youth Programs. This money goes to child care providers, as well as child and youth development programs. Next year it is estimated to serve more than 200,000 children of military families. 

This comes on the heels of another egregious money waster — the 37th vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. "Obamacare") which passed the House last week.


For Equal Pay Day NWLC Releases Materials Providing Fresh Insight into the Wage Gap

April 9 is Equal Pay Day –the day more than three months into the year when women’s wages finally catch up to what men were paid in the previous year. In “honor” of the occasion National Women’s Law Center is releasing fresh data and analysis on the persistent wage gap between men and women.

This is also a big birthday year – something actually worth celebrating – the Equal Pay Act turns 50 in June! But on the eve of that happy occasion, here’s another downer: As reported in The Wage Gap by State for Women Overall, 50 years in, the wage gap is still going strong all across the U.S.

Since 1963, when the Equal Pay Act became law, we’ve narrowed the wage gap by only 18 cents, and in the last ten years that gap hasn’t closed at all. For the last decade, the median annual earnings of women have lagged behind men – women working full time, year round have made roughly 77 cents for every dollar made by men working full time, year round. We’ve still got a whopping 23 cents to go before we close the wage gap. Even if the wheels of progress were to start turning again today, if we only close the gap another 18 cents in the next 50 years, we’ve got 64 years before the wage gap closes.


Manufacturing Shows Growth - But Women Are Being Left Behind

Posted by Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Senior Policy Analyst | Posted on: March 26, 2013 at 10:10 am

This morning's Census data signal positive growth in manufacturing, but there's a hidden part of this story that new NWLC analysis of jobs data reveals: women are being left behind. 

The Census data show that new durable goods orders were up in February and that orders have increased five of the last six months. But women are not sharing in this manufacturing recovery: 

  • Manufacturing added 517,000 net jobs from January 2010 to February 2013. Men gained 535,000 jobs, while women actually lost 18,000 jobs. 
  • This trend is not a correction for men's recession losses — during the recession men and women both experienced manufacturing job losses proportionate to their share of the field.