Minimum Wage and Gender - 3/19/14 | WYPR

Minimum Wage and Gender - 3/19/14

Mar 19, 2014

Debate regarding local and national minimum wages rages on.  A recent article authored by economist Laura D’Andrea Tyson, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and a key policy advisor to the Clinton Administration puts a different twist on the discussion. 

While many have focused on the impact of raising the minimum wage on employers or on teenagers seeking summer employment, Dr. Tyson focuses upon a different group:  women.  She points out that fewer than half of all workers in the U.S. are women, but they account for 75 percent of workers in the 10 lowest paid occupations and about 60 percent minimum wage workers.  Most of these women are not teenagers.  Approximately three quarters of female minimum wage workers are above the age of 20.  Perhaps most importantly, about three quarters of these women are on their own and many are taking care of their children financially and otherwise.  

There are 7.1 million working families with children headed by women and 58 percent of them are low income.  Two-thirds of workers in jobs dependent on tips are women, disproportionately women of color Dr. Tyson notes.  The tipped minimum wage is only 2 dollars and 13 cents an hour and has been frozen for the past 21 years.