Raise the Minimum Wage, Shrink the Pay Gap

Photo courtesy of Maryland GovPics, Flickr

Photo courtesy of Maryland GovPics, Flickr

August 07, 2014

Your pocketbook may feel thin, especially the day before payday — but imagine what it would feel like if you hadn’t gotten a raise in over five years. Your rent keeps rising, food and gas cost more and more, but you take home the same pay you made in 2009. That’s what life is like for the nation’s minimum wage workers, who’ve made the same hourly wage of $7.25 for the last five years. Worse, there’s no raise in sight.

This stagnation hits women particularly hard, since we’re the majority of all employees being paid minimum wage. The average minimum wage worker is 33 years old, and most work full time. Yet even when women work full time — that’s year round, no holidays, no vacation — their minimum-wage income remains below the federal poverty line. It’s a stressful and difficult life, and it leaves millions of Americans scrambling just to stay afloat. Many are forced to rely on public assistance programs to make ends meet, even though they’re working full time. These same workers are also often without any paid sick days or family leave, let alone vacation.

This is why we need to raise the minimum wage. In addition to directly benefiting women and their families, increasing the federal minimum wage will also help shrink the persistent gender pay gap. A recent White House report found that “increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and indexing it to inflation could close about 5 percent of the gender wage gap.” That’s more than the pay gap has shrunk in over a decade. That’s more pay in the pockets of millions of women, which means more consumer spending fueling business growth and new jobs. It’d be a big step forward.

An increased minimum wage and closing the gender wage gap aren’t just matters of fairness; they’re the key to America’s families making ends meet. Forty percent of households with children include a mother who is either the sole or primary earner for her family, and if she isn’t being paid adequately or fairly, those families suffer.

Too many Americans are having way too much trouble making ends meet despite a full-time job. That’s why we need to urge Congress to raise the minimum wage. Take action and tell Congress to raise the wage and shrink the pay gap!

By:   |   August 07, 2014

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