During Tuesday night’s State of the Union, President Obama called on Congress to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 per hour. Not only is the proposal potentially good for business, but, according to a report released Wednesday from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, raising the minimum wage would also be a pillar for women’s rights. Here’s why, in three charts:
1. Two-thirds of minimum wage earners are women. A disproportionate number of women in the workforce hold the lowest-paying jobs, a fact that contributes to the gender pay gap. This means that women are far more likely to benefit from a wage increase:
2. Families benefit from a wage increase. Sixty percent of women are the primary or co-bread winners in their households. More money in their paychecks means more for their families:
3. Over 17 million women would benefit. The total number of women who would be earning more if Congress approved a minimum wage hike is 13.1 million. 8.9 million of these receive a direct benefit, while another 4.2 million women would enjoy the so-called “spillover effect” of increased wages to keep up with a changing wage structure:
Arguments against the minimum wage — made, within hours of Obama’s speech, by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) — are predicated on the idea that it would weaken job growth or ruin the economy. In fact, studies show the opposite: that it would strengthen job creation, particularly when unemployment is high, as it is now.