Women and the Minimum Wage, State by State
The minimum wage is falling short for millions of Americans — especially for women, who represent about two-thirds of minimum wage workers across the country, and at least half of minimum wage workers in every state. Today, the federal minimum wage is just $7.25 per hour, and full-time earnings of $14,500 a year leave a family of three thousands of dollars below the federal poverty line. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia currently have minimum wages above the federal level, but in every state, the minimum wage leaves a full-time worker with two children near or below the poverty level.
Click on a state below to see its minimum wage and tipped minimum wage, plus:
- The share of minimum wage workers who are women
- The next scheduled increase in the minimum wage
- Any recent action on the minimum wage in the state legislature (or ballot measure)
Women are also two-thirds of tipped workers, such as restaurant servers. In most states, employers can count a portion of tips toward wages (known as a “tip credit”) and pay their tipped employees a minimum cash wage that is lower than the regular minimum wage. The federal minimum cash wage for tipped workers has been frozen for 24 years at $2.13 per hour — just $4,260 a year for full-time work, providing little reliable income when fluctuating tips make it difficult to cover regular expenses like rent and groceries. Tipped workers receive more stable base pay in states that do not allow a tip credit, but most states have established tipped minimum wages below $5.00 per hour (including 19 states that follow the federal standard). Nationwide, the poverty rate for tipped workers is about twice as high as the rate for the workforce as a whole.
2014 brought notable progress on the minimum wage at the state level, as Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia passed minimum wage increases. In addition, voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota approved ballot initiatives to increase the minimum wage in their states, and Illinois voters affirmatively answered a non-binding question to tell their state legislators to increase their minimum wage. These measures are important steps forward, but raising the federal minimum wage — including the minimum wage for tipped workers — is essential to help millions of workers across the country support themselves and their families. And because women are the majority of workers who would get a raise, increasing the minimum wage would also help close the wage gap.
Share of minimum wage workers who are women: NWLC calculations based on unpublished U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics data for all wage and salary workers. Figures are annual averages for 2013. Available data do not permit a precise calculation of the percentage of women making the state minimum wage in all states due to the increments by which wages are reported. Estimates are based on the share of workers who are women at or below the reported wage levels immediately above and below the relevant state’s minimum wage. “Minimum wage workers” refers to workers making the minimum wage or less.
Minimum wages: U.S. Department of Labor, Minimum Wage Laws in the States, January 1, 2015.
Tipped minimum wages: U.S. Department of Labor, Minimum Wages for Tipped Employees, January 1, 2015.
"Recent legislative action" refers to legislative activity beyond introduction of a minimum wage bill, hearing, or subcommittee vote.