Anne Morrison & Katherine Gallagher Robbins
Two-thirds of low-wage workers, who work in jobs that typically pay $10.50 per hour or less, are women. The women who make up the low-wage workforce may not be who you think. The vast majority are neither high school dropouts nor teenagers. Most don’t have a spouse’s income to rely on. Many are supporting children—and their family incomes are low. Over half of the women in the low-wage workforce work full time and nearly three-quarters work all year. Nearly half are women of color.
Note on methods
“Low Wage Jobs” and the “low-wage workforce” could be defined in different ways; this analysis uses $10.50 or less per hour because $10.50 in 2014 is roughly equivalent to $12 in 2020, which is the proposed new federal minimum wage in the Raise the Wage Act pending in Congress (2015), see David Cooper, John Schmitt, & Lawrence Mishel, Economic Policy Institute, We Can Afford at $12.00 Federal Minimum Wage in 2020 (April 2015) available at http://www.epi.org/publication/we-can-afford-a-12-00-federal-minimum-wage-in-2020/. Median hourly wages for occupations are determined using the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment Statistics data from May 2014 (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm). Unless otherwise noted, data are National Women’s Law Center calculations based on Current Population Survey (CPS) 2014 using Miriam King et al., Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS), Current Population Survey: Version 3.0 [Machine-readable database] (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2010). Some detailed occupations listed in the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics are not available using CPS data in which case a broader level of occupation is used.