Washington, D.C. — Last night in his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama pushed for an increase in the federal minimum wage, and today the Center for American Progress released four charts and an analysis of how this policy change would markedly improve the lives of women and families across the country.
“Nothing more directly impacts the lives of working women and the families that count on them than an increase in wages,” said Tara McGuinness, author of the analysis and CAP Senior Vice President for Communications. “President Obama’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $9 would increase the earnings of 13.2 million women—that pay increase would make a real difference in the lives of women, who make up the majority of minimum-wage workers.”
The analysis, “Women and Families Would Be the Lead Recipients of a Minimum-Wage Boost,” finds that because most minimum-wage workers are women, and women are two-thirds of our country’s breadwinners or co-breadwinners, raising the minimum wage is an especially important policy step to improve the lives and livelihood of women and their families. In 2012 about 4.2 million workers—2.8 million of whom were women—earned the minimum wage or less, according to the CAP analysis. That means that more than 64 percent of minimum-wage workers are women, compared to just 36 percent of male minimum-wage workers.
Additionally, authors Tara McGuinness and David Madland find that:
- An increase in the federal minimum wage could translate into real dollars for groceries, gas, and school supplies for millions of the men and women who are earning hourly wages. Roughly 8.9 million women who earn hourly wages would see their earnings directly increased by a $9 minimum wage, and 4.2 million others would have their wages hiked because of the “spillover effect” of such an increase.
- American families depend on these wages. The analysis shows that women earning the minimum wage are also overwhelmingly adults—not teenagers. Fully 79 percent of women earning the minimum wage are age 20 or older. Just less than 40 percent of female minimum-wage earners are over the age of 30.
- While women are the majority of minimum-wage workers, they are also just a small minority of those workers who have done exceedingly well in the past few decades. Only 4.2 percent of Fortune 500 chief executive officers are women, according to data from Catalyst. The difference in the fate of CEOs and minimum-wage workers is stark: From 1978 to 2011 the average annual compensation for a CEO rose by 759 percent, according to analysis by the Economic Policy Institute. Over that same time period, the purchasing power of the minimum wage fell by 13.5 percent, according to CAP calculations.
To speak with CAP experts on this issue, please contact Madeline Meth at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.741.6277.