(Washington, D.C.) Today, Democratic leadership in Congress introduced the Raise the Wage Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024, index the minimum wage so that it continues to rise along with wages overall, and gradually increase the lower minimum cash wage for tipped workers until it matches the regular minimum wage—so that all working people are entitled to the same fair minimum wage regardless of tips.
Women across the country—especially women of color—experience a pay gap and a higher risk of poverty than men. Women working full time, year-round typically make only 80 percent of what their male counterparts make, a wage gap that varies by race and is even larger for women of color. Women’s overrepresentation in low-wage jobs is one factor driving the gender wage gap: women are close to two-thirds of the workforce in jobs that pay the minimum wage or just a few dollars above it, as well as two-thirds of workers in tipped jobs. Women of color are particularly overrepresented among tipped workers and other low-wage workers. And they are particularly harmed by a $7.25 federal minimum wage that has not gone up in a decade—and by a $2.13 tipped minimum cash wage that has been frozen since 1991.
The Raise the Wage Act would finally establish $15 as the minimum wage for working people across the country, giving one in three working women—and 37 percent of working women of color—a much-needed raise (according to 2017 estimates from the Economic Policy Institute). This would allow women across the country to lift their families out of poverty and help narrow the gender wage gap.
“It’s unacceptable that women and people of color have been left behind by our economy and our policies for far too long,” said Emily Martin, Vice President for Education and Workplace Justice at the National Women’s Law Center. “The Raise the Wage Act would address this inequity. It would end poverty-level wages and give millions of women and the families who depend on their earnings a more secure future. It would end unfair exclusions for tipped workers, people with disabilities, and youth so that they, too, benefit from the same decent minimum wage as all other working people. And it would reduce the economic vulnerability that heightens women’s vulnerability to sexual harassment on the job. There’s no more fitting way to begin this historic Congress than by making real, concrete progress to guarantee that all women receive the equal and adequate pay that is key to achieving dignity, equity, and safety at work. Congress should act quickly to pass the Raise the Wage Act.”
For immediate release: January 16, 2019
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