But here’s the catch: the bills passed by the two chambers are quite different from one another. The House bill would raise the state minimum wage to $9.50 per hour by 2015, then index it annually to keep up with inflation. (Minnesota’s current minimum wage is actually only $6.15 per hour, but because federal minimum wage law prevails, most workers are entitled to a minimum of $7.25 per hour.) The Senate bill would raise the minimum wage to just $7.75 per hour by 2015, with no inflation adjustment. Read more »
April 9 is Equal Pay Day, representing the date in 2013 through which women must work to match what men earned in 2012, thanks to the persistent gap between men’s and women’s median earnings. Women working full time, year round in the United States are paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, and the gap is even wider for women of color; black women working full time, year round are paid only 64 cents, and Hispanic women only 55 cents, for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.
Women are nearly two thirds of minimum wage earners in the United States today and represent a large majority in most of the ten largest low-paying occupations. Women’s concentration in such low-wage jobs is one of the reasons women still typically earn less than men. A woman working full time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour makes just $14,500 in a year – thousands of dollars below the poverty line for a mom with two kids. Pay for tipped workers – like restaurant servers, who are about 70 percent women – can be even lower: the federal tipped minimum cash wage has been frozen at just $2.13 per hour for more than 20 years. Read more »
There’s a lot to report on the minimum wage today, but I’ll start with the biggest news: the New York legislature has approved the state’s 2013-2014 budget, which includes a minimum wage increase. Specifically, the minimum wage will rise from $7.25 to $8.00 per hour on December 31, 2013, to $8.75 one year later, and $9.00 on December 31, 2015.
This is good news for minimum wage workers in New York, nearly two-thirds of whom are women. But the phased-in minimum wage increase in the budget is weaker than the increase that the state Assembly passed just a few weeks ago, which would have raised New York’s minimum wage to $9.00 per hour in one step in January 2014, then indexed the wage annually to keep up with inflation. The budget also drops a provision in the Assembly-passed bill that would have raised the minimum cash wage for tipped food service workers from $5.00 to $6.21 per hour, but it does provide a path to an increase for these workers by authorizing the labor commissioner to have a wage board examine the adequacy of New York’s tipped minimum wage, then issue an order to raise the wage. Read more »
Momentum just keeps building towards a higher minimum wage. I reported last week that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which now has at least 25 co-sponsors in the Senate and 131 in the House. That’s a strong show of support – but we know the bill will still face opposition from some in Congress. So it’s heartening to see that a number of states aren’t waiting for the federal government to act to raise wages for their lowest-paid workers.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve noted proposed minimum wage increases in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, and Rhode Island. And just in the past couple of weeks, legislatures in several of these states have taken steps to move those proposals forward. This movement is especially good news for women, who make up the majority of minimum wage workers across the country and in most states. Read more »
I walked into a crowded room on Capitol Hill this week to witness my first congressional press conference. Senator Tom Harkin and Representative George Miller were enthusiastic about their legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.
I’ll be graduating from college in a few months, and I’m looking for my first job. But the issue of minimum wage isn’t something I’ve been thinking about. As a college graduate, I’ve been assuming that I’ll be able to find a job that pays well, despite the shaky economy. Amie Crawford, a college graduate and fast-food worker from Chicago stood at the podium and described what it’s like to work hard prepping food for the public but not have enough money to buy food for herself. I was stunned. Amie’s story made me wonder about the millions of other hard-working women who cut back on food, drop their health insurance, and go without child care in order to get by on a minimum wage salary. And I thought about their kids who might go to bed hungry.
Amie Crawford at the intoduction of the Fair Minimum Wage Act
Before the “snowquester” blew into town, I had the pleasure of attending a press conference on the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative George Miller (D-CA) introduced on Tuesday. The Fair Minimum Wage Act would gradually raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, increase the minimum cash wage for tipped workers from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage, and index these wages to keep up with inflation.
I was excited to be present for the introduction because I believe this bill is hugely important, especially for women. If you ask me why, I might be inclined to rattle off a few numbers: women are 2/3 of minimum wage workers in the U.S., women are the majority of the workforce in the 10 occupations paying less than $10.10/hour, women working full time, year round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts…the list goes on. But listening to the speakers at yesterday’s event brought home what those numbers mean for real people, whose stories are more powerful than any statistics.
One of those stories was Amie’s. Amie Crawford might not strike you as the typical minimum wage worker: she has a college degree and worked as an interior designer for decades before the recession hit. Amie herself “used to think that minimum wage jobs were for other people…They weren’t me. They had less education, fewer skills. They didn’t work as hard or try as hard.” Then Amie’s life changed—and she acknowledged, “I couldn’t have been more wrong.” Read more »
I write an awful lot about why it’s so important for women to raise the federal minimum wage, so I’m especially excited to head to Capitol Hill today for a press conference on the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative George Miller (D-CA) will introduce at noon. Introducing this crucial legislation is an essential first step towards fairer pay for millions of women across the country.
The Fair Minimum Wage Act would gradually raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, increase the minimum cash wage for tipped workers from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage, and index these wages to keep up with inflation. Women especially stand to benefit from this proposal because they are about two-thirds of workers earning the federal minimum wage or less – and they are the majority of workers in the ten largest occupations that typically pay less than $10.10 per hour. As new analysis from NWLC shows, women are at least two-thirds of the workforce in seven of those ten occupations:
Women’s concentration in such low-wage jobs is one of the reasons we still see a large gap between women’s and men’s typical earnings: American women who work full time, year round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, and the wage gap is even wider for women of color. Read more »
Sheryl Sandberg is telling women to “lean in.” She's encouraging us to strive for bigger and better jobs. She's telling us to resist “leaving before we leave” in anticipation of having families. Through her “lean in circles,” women will have opportunities to share success stories about how leaning in to their careers, while also having families, worked for them.
Here’s the problem: “Leaning in” any further is not an option for most low-wage working women, any more than choosing to leave their jobs is an option. They’re already leaning in, with all their might.
Momentum continues to build around a minimum wage increase in the days following President Obama’s call to raise the federal level. Today brings good news from the Garden State, where the New Jersey Assembly just approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would raise the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour, then adjust the wage annually to keep up with inflation. The Senate approved the same proposal last week. Whether New Jersey workers get a raise is now up to the voters: the amendment will be on the ballot this November. (State lawmakers adopted the constitutional amendment strategy after Governor Christie issued a conditional veto of the minimum wage bill the legislature passed last year; the governor has no role in the amendment process.)
A minimum wage of $8.25 per hour would increase a full-time minimum wage worker’s annual pay from $14,500 to $16,500. This $2,000 boost would still not be enough to lift a family of three above the poverty line, and it definitely falls short of a living wage in a state as expensive as New Jersey. Moreover, the proposed constitutional amendment would not change New Jersey’s minimum cash wage for tipped workers, which is just $2.13 per hour. (Though employers would be required to ensure their tipped employees are paid $8.25 per hour, tipped workers are often paid less than the minimum wage due to wage theft and other illegal practices.) Nonetheless, a $1.00 per hour increase in New Jersey’s minimum wage would be an important step in the right direction – and indexing wages to inflation would help ensure that these very modest gains are not erased as the cost of living rises. Read more »
On Tuesday, President Obama laid out an important economic agenda for women and families in his State of the Union address — expanding early education opportunities, advancing fair tax and budget policies, increasing the federal minimum wage, and passing both the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Violence Against Women Act.
This is a full and impressive agenda for President Obama's second term. But we're up for the challenge and we hope you are, too!
Expanding Early Education Opportunities — President Obama's early childhood initiative would expand access to critical early learning opportunities for millions of preschool age and young children across the country. This would help many low- and middle-income women and their families who are struggling to afford the early learning opportunities that put their children on a path to success.
Advancing Fair Tax and Budget Policies — President Obama called on Congress to pass a budget that replaces reckless cuts with smart savings and wise investments in our future. This is especially important to women, because millions of hard-working women are struggling to lift their families out of poverty and cuts in funding for public services have cost women hundreds of thousands of jobs. We also need a tax system that fairly raises the revenue required to make these wise investments and stave off deep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other programs women and their families count on.