Center for American Progress Action

Women and Families Would Be the Lead Recipients of a Minimum-Wage Boost

Women and Families Would Be the Lead Recipients of a Minimum-Wage Boost

Increasing the minimum wage for all workers—particularly women who are the majority of low-paid workers—will markedly improve life for struggling American families.

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Last night in his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama pushed for an increase in the federal minimum wage, stating, “Let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty.” The president proposed raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9 an hour, with additional future raises based on increases in the cost of living. As the president said last night, “This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families.”

With the cultural shift of women comprising an increasing share of the U.S. workforce, raising the minimum wage is an especially important policy step to improve the lives and livelihood of women and their families. Most minimum-wage workers are women, and women are two-thirds of our country’s breadwinners or co-breadwinners.

In 2012 about 4.2 million workers—2.8 million of whom were women—earned the minimum wage or less, according to a CAP analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. That means that more than 64 percent of minimum-wage workers are women, compared to just 36 percent of male minimum-wage workers.

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Tara McGuinness

Executive Director, CAPAF, and Senior Vice President for Communications, CAP

David Madland

Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project

Nick Bunker

Research Associate