When it comes to the minimum wage, far too many working women in this country deserve a raise. Women account for less than half of the U.S. working population, yet nearly 6 in 10 workers earning the minimum wage are women. Many are working full time and are the sole breadwinners for their families – bringing in earnings of less than $15,000 a year. Consider this: a family of four trying to get by on that income is living 17 percent below the poverty line, even with tax credits. That’s unacceptable.
It’s time to raise the national minimum wage. More than half of those who would benefit are women – about a third of them have children. In fact, of the 2.8 million working single parents that would benefit, more than 80 percent are women. And research shows that raising the minimum wage reduces child poverty among female-headed households. Raising the wage makes sense as a way to reward work and give workers a lift towards the middle class.
Congress last acted to raise the national minimum wage in 2007. Since then, the cost for the basics — food, housing, utilities, transportation, child care and more — has gone up. Low-wage workers in this country, most of them women, are working harder and harder but falling further and further behind.
From Mother Jones and Frances Perkins, to Addie Wyatt, Esther Peterson and Dolores Huerta, women have been fighting for better working conditions in the U.S. for generations. During Women’s History Month, it’s important that we remind ourselves of the cause to which they dedicated their lives. We must continue their efforts and push to better the wages and working conditions for women in this country. Millions of women are depending on it.