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Minimum Wage

Listen Up: States Continue to Pave the Way on Minimum Wage Hikes

 With public polling showing remarkably strong support for increasing the minimum wage, legislators around the country are pushing to raise the wage – and they’re making it happen. We’re only nine days into April, and already, this month is one for the history books. Here are some highlights of what’s happening in the states:

  • Just last week, West Virginia’s governor signed into law a bill that will boost wages for 120,000 West Virginians. The minimum wage is now set to rise from $7.25 to $8.75 by 2016. Women make up about two-thirds [PDF] of the state’s minimum wage workers.
  • On Monday, Maryland’s legislature sent a bill to the governor to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour by 2018, making the Free State only the second state to set the $10.10 figure called for in the pending federal Fair Minimum Wage Act. (Connecticut beat Maryland to become the first state with a $10.10 minimum wage last month.) Gov. Martin O’Malley has announced he’ll sign the bill, and for the state’s minimum wage workers – more than six in ten of whom are women – an increase can’t come soon enough. 

Women in Low-Wage Jobs Deserve Equal Pay for Equal Work

It should be startling that even in the ten largest jobs that pay very low wages –$10.10 an hour or less – women still see a 10 cent gender wage gap on the dollar.* And this is despite the fact that women make up more than three-quarters of the workers in these jobs.

Across the income spectrum, the wage gap hurts women and families. But women in low-wage jobs can least afford it. They are already making do with less. They shouldn’t have to make do with pay discrimination too.

Mothers with children under 18 make up nearly one-quarter of these workers, although they make up just over 16 percent of workers overall.  In 2011, 40 percent of households with children under 18 had a mother as the primary breadwinner—and two-thirds of those households were led by single mothers with a median family income of just $23,000.  These hardworking breadwinner moms and their families deserve equal pay for equal work. Read more »

The Fair Minimum Wage Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act - Perfect Together

You know what I love?  When two things go together perfectly.  Cake and ice cream.  Wine and cheese.  Chocolate and…well, OK, chocolate pretty much goes perfectly with everything.

Two bills that are expected to see some action in Congress this month, The Fair Minimum Wage Act and Paycheck Fairness go together perfectly, too.  That’s because they’re both critical issues for women – and both will help women achieve fair pay.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act would gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, increase the tipped minimum cash wage from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and index these wages to keep pace with inflation. Raising the minimum wage would help women achieve fair pay: Read more »

Raising the Minimum Wage Promotes Equal Opportunity for Women, People of Color

Raising the minimum wage isn’t just about making ends meet. It’s about equality.

Women and people of color are disproportionately represented in minimum wage work, and an increase in the federal minimum wage could make a huge difference in the lives of these workers and their families. It could mean lifting families out of poverty, providing more stable base incomes for low-wage workers, and taking steps to close the wage gap. But it all starts with action.

Read more »

Connecticut Poised to Make History with $10.10 Minimum Wage

Why wait?

Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy made it clear last month that he thought it was time to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 – and he wasn’t interested in waiting for Congress to do it. Malloy pushed for Connecticut state legislators to pass a statewide increase, and now they’re poised to make history. The Senate and the House voted yesterday to approve a bill (SB-32) to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017, and Malloy has announced he’ll sign the bill today.

It’s a very good day to be a Nutmeg-er. (Connectican? Connecticut-er?) Read more »

White House: Raising the Minimum Wage and Tipped Minimum Wage Helps Close Wage Gap, Reduces Poverty

A new report  issued by the White House this morning provides more compelling evidence that raising the minimum wage is critical for advancing fair pay and economic security for women. The report evaluates the impact of the Fair Minimum Wage Act proposed by Senator Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Miller (D-CA) and, like the NWLC analysis of the proposal, finds that women would especially benefit from raising the minimum wage, now just $7.25 an hour, to $10.10 per hour, increasing the tipped minimum cash wage – now just $2.13 an hour – to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and indexing these wages for inflation.

Here are some key findings from the report: Read more »

Six New Facts on Why We Must Raise the Minimum Wage and Advance Equal Pay

We like numbers! We’ve previously identified 10 reasons why raising the minimum wage is a women’s issue. Well, we’ve been crunching some new employment and wage data and wanted to share these new six facts (and a chart!) that underscore why it’s critical to raise the minimum wage and advance equal pay and equal opportunity for women:

  • Three-quarters: The share of workers in the 10 largest low-wage occupations (defined in this analysis as those with median hourly wages of less than $10.10 per hour) who are women (76 percent), compared to 47 percent of all workers who are women.

Feeling the Love: Another Big Week for the Minimum Wage

Need a date this Valentine’s Day? The minimum wage does. Americans United for Change just launched a campaign that focuses less on roses and chocolates and more on Speaker of the House John Boehner (not your traditional Valentine’s Day sweet talk, I admit). The goal? Setting a date for the House to vote on the Fair Minimum Wage Act. And this isn’t the only love minimum wage campaigns are getting this week. At the national and state level, efforts to raise the minimum wage are picking up steam.

Here in D.C., Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) marked a cold and snowy 2/13 with events and social media activity to remind Capitol Hill that the federal tipped minimum wage has been set at $2.13 since 1991 – overwhelmingly affecting restaurant servers, the largest group of tipped workers (71 percent of whom are women). On Wednesday, I was lucky enough to join other advocates to watch President Obama sign an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers, while calling for passage of the federal bill to raise the wage for all workers. “America deserves a raise,” he said – and it’s clear that legislators around the country agree. Read more »

Delaware Passes Minimum Wage Increase

Delaware is indeed a small wonder.

During a week of much minimum wage excitement, Delaware state lawmakers did something pretty remarkable: A raise to the state’s minimum wage passed the state House and the state Senate and received the governor’s signature – all in one day.

Of course, advocates had been working to raise the minimum wage for some time, but Delaware’s minimum wage earners, of whom nearly two-thirds are women, are now set to see their hourly pay rise from $7.25 to $7.75 per hour on June 1, and to $8.25 starting on June 1, 2015.

Some lawmakers who worked on the bill say this is a step in the right direction but that the wage increase doesn’t go far enough. Passage of the federal Fair Minimum Wage Act would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, the same rate workers on new federal services contracts must be paid under President Obama’s recently announced executive order. Read more »

President Obama's New Executive Order - One Step Closer to Equal Pay

President Obama’s announcement that he will raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for workers on new federal government contracts for services is welcome news.  This is an important step and builds momentum toward a national increase – which is particularly needed for women, who are nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers, and women of color, who are nearly four out of every ten female minimum wage workers. President Obama’s announcement comes on the heels of years of advocacy to raise the federal minimum wage for all workers, which currently stands at $7.25 per hour. Congress has raised the minimum wage only three times in the past 30 years.

Although it’s hard to imagine, many Americans who work on federal contracts are paid very low wages. One survey of federal-contract employees found that 74 percent earn less than $10 an hour, one in five depend on Medicaid for their healthcare [PDF], and 14 percent rely on food stamps. Once the minimum wage is in effect for employees on new federal services contracts, there are some families that will immediately be pulled out of poverty, and many others that will see a tangible improvement in their economic well-being. Raising pay for these workers is an important step toward raising the minimum wage to $10.10 for all workers, which would lift millions more out of poverty and – because women are the majority of workers who would benefit – would help close the wage gap.

This great news from the White House also highlights the critical steps the President can take on his own to lift American families out of poverty and close the wage gap. Here’s what President Obama could do next to ensure that women earn their fair share: Read more »