A group of House Democrats are seeking to increase the minimum wage to $9.80 per hour in order to help shrink the ever-increasing gap between the wealthiest Americans and struggling workers. This modest increase to the current $7.25 per hour would help catch the wage up to the rate of inflation, since the buying power of the 1968 minimum wage is the equivalent of about $10.55 an hour today.
A new report from the Economic Policy Institute finds that, while raising the minimum wage to the proposed $9.80 level would have a significant impact on about 28 million low-income workers, it would especially benefit women. As the report puts it, the fact that “women comprise 54.5 percent of workers who would be affected by a potential minimum-wage increase makes it a women’s issue”:
The impact on women varies by state, ranging from the highest percentage of affected women in Mississippi — where 64.4 percent of the low-wage workers who would benefit from a minimum wage hike are female — to 49.3 percent in both California and Nevada. However, California and Nevada are the only states where women do not make up the majority of the low-income workers who would be positively affected by a higher wage.
Despite the fact that millions of women would see their lives improve with an increased minimum wage, conservatives oppose initiatives to raise it, using tired arguments that it will kill jobs and hurt small businesses. In fact, studies show that a higher minimum wage does not impede job growth, especially because the nation’s biggest and most profitable corporations are the biggest employers of minimum wage employees.