Today, March 24, 2021 is the 83rd day of the year. This day represents how much longer women must work in the new year to earn what men made in the last. That’s nearly 3 months of pay. Let that sink in.
Part of the reason for this disparity: jobs sectors that are dominated by women are some of the most undervalued and underpaid. Child care professionals (95% female), domestic workers (91.5% female), home health care workers (89% female), and host/hostesses (84.1% female) for example, are all jobs that pay near or below the federal poverty line. It, then, comes as no surprise that women make up two-thirds of the workforce paid $11.50 per hour or less.
Raising wages for low-income workers, while not a cure-all, goes a long way to reduce these disparities. States with higher minimum wages have been shown to have narrower wage gaps. When it comes to Black and Latina women, roughly a quarter would receive a raise if the federal minimum wage was increased to $15. Meanwhile, the federal minimum wage has stalled for more than a decade at $7.25 an hour.
The Fairness Project has worked to empower voters to raise wages at the ballot box. Our ballot measure campaigns are responsible for increasing wages for nearly 10 million Americans in nine states in the last four years, putting more than 17.7 billion back into the pockets of working people.
Thanks to the contributions of small donors all across the country, we’re making a difference, but we have a long way to go. We shouldn’t have to fight state by state for low-wage workers, particularly for women and people of color, to be paid a living wage.
Congress should step in to raise the federal minimum wage for all workers. It’s a matter of equity for women, it’s a matter of fairness, and it’s what voters overwhelmingly want.
As we saw in Florida last November when more than 60 percent of voters approved an increase in the minimum wage, the biggest gap on this issue is no longer between Republicans and Democrats; it’s between politicians who don’t want to raise the wage and the people they represent.
It’s far past time to get this done and start raising wages for women in this country.