When the minimum wage falls short, women pay the price. Why? Because women represent nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers across the country, and close to three-quarters of minimum wage workers in some states. Today, the federal minimum wage is just $7.25 per hour, and full-time earnings of $14,500 a year leave a family of three thousands of dollars below the federal poverty line. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia currently have minimum wages above the federal level, but in almost every state, the minimum wage leaves a full-time worker with two children near or below the poverty level.
Click on a state below to see its statewide minimum wage and tipped minimum wage, plus the share of minimum wage workers who are women.
Women are also two-thirds of tipped workers, such as restaurant servers. In most states, employers can count a portion of tips toward wages (known as a “tip credit”) and pay their tipped employees a minimum cash wage that is lower than the regular minimum wage—often far lower. The federal minimum cash wage for tipped workers has been frozen for more than 25 years at $2.13 per hour — just $4,260 a year for full-time work, providing little reliable income when fluctuating tips make it difficult to cover regular expenses like rent and groceries. Tipped workers receive more stable pay in states that do not have a separate tipped minimum wage, but most states have established tipped minimum wages below $5.00 per hour (including 18 states that follow the federal standard). Nationwide, the poverty rate for tipped workers is twice as high as the rate for other workers.
Raising the federal minimum wage—and ensuring that tipped workers are entitled to this wage before tips—is essential to help millions of working women across the country support themselves and their families. And because women are the majority of workers who would get a raise, increasing the minimum wage would also help close the gender wage gap.
Share of minimum wage workers who are women: NWLC calculations based on unpublished U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics data for all wage and salary workers. Figures are annual averages for 2016 and are therefore calculated based on the minimum wage in effect in 2016. Available data do not permit a precise calculation of the percentage of women making the state minimum wage in all states due to the increments by which wages are reported. Estimates are based on the share of workers who are women at or below the reported wage levels immediately above and below the relevant state’s minimum wage. “Minimum wage workers” at the national level refers to workers making the federal minimum wage or less. “Minimum wage workers” at the state level refers to workers making their state’s minimum wage or less.
Minimum wages: U.S. Department of Labor, Minimum Wage Laws in the States, July 1, 2017.
Tipped minimum wages: U.S. Department of Labor, Minimum Wages for Tipped Employees, July 1, 2017.
Note on local minimum wage rates: Some sub-state localities have adopted minimum wages above their state minimum wage, and some state minimum wage laws (e.g., Oregon and New York) provide for minimum wage rates in specified metropolitan areas that vary from the statewide base wage. For more detail on local minimum wage rates, see the Economic Policy Institute’s Minimum Wage Tracker.