Millions of workers—mostly women—struggle to make ends meet on minimum wage earnings. A new bill scheduled to be introduced tomorrow, the Raise the Wage Act, would significantly help these workers by increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $12.00 per hour by 2020, then indexing it to keep pace with wages overall. The bill would also eliminate the federal minimum cash wage for tipped workers by gradually raising it until it is equal to the regular minimum wage.
Walmart made headlines last week when it announced plans to increase the base pay at their stores to $9 an hour ($1.75 above the current federal minimum wage) in April and to $10 by February 2016. While $10 an hour is still not enough for a full-time worker to keep a family of four out of poverty, it will boost paychecks for close to 500,000 full-time and part-time hourly workers at Walmart and Sam’s Club U.S. stores—about 40% of their current workers—and represents an important victory for the employee activists of OUR Walmart, who have vowed to continue to fight for a $15 base wage and fairer workplace policies. The move also adds a huge corporation to the list of companies recognizing that better wages can mean better business, and more will likely follow suit; just today, T.J. Maxx announced that it will also raise the minimum pay in its line of stores to $10 an hour by 2016, describing the change as “an important part of our strategies to continue attracting and retaining the best talent in order to deliver a great shopping experience for our customers, remain competitive on wages in our U.S. markets and stay focused on our value mission.” Read more »
The minimum wage went up in 20 states on January 1st. South Dakota had the largest boost of $1.25 per hour thanks to South Dakota voters, who overwhelmingly approved the wage increase on the state’s ballot in November. Arkansas and Nebraska also saw their minimum wages increase on the 1st as a result of successful ballot initiatives, while workers in Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia got raises due to legislative action. Minimum wages in the other nine states—Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, 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. Workers in Alaska, D.C., Delaware and Minnesota are set to get raises later in 2015. Read more »
This month’s BLS data release shows continued strong job growth, with the economy adding 214,000 jobs. Women’s jobs made up 59 percent of these gains (127,000 jobs), but our analysis shows that 49 percent of new jobs overall were added in the low-wage sectors of retail, leisure & hospitality, temporary help services, home health care services, and nursing & residential care facilities. One-third of women’s total net jobs were added in the retail and leisure & hospitality sectors alone. Read more »
Election Day post-mortems generally involve a lot of speculation – pundits will spend days arguing over which issues persuaded voters to choose one candidate over another. But voters issued at least one clear mandate: they overwhelmingly support raising the minimum wage.