WOMEN ON THE MINIMUM WAGE. More than any other group in America, women will benefit from today's minimum wage increase. Sixty-five percent of minimum wage earners are female, and of the 7.4 million of them who received a pay raise today, 1.4 million are single moms. Even after today's hike, it will still take two minimum wage earners to keep a family with children "reasonably" afloat, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, told TAPPED. But as Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee pointed out, a few extra thousand dollars a year can make the difference between staving off hunger and buying groceries; or between having no health insurance and purchasing a minimal plan.
In addition to raising wages at the bottom, universal health care is the number one thing we can do to help single parents, not to mention increasing the supply of affordable housing (more on that later) and improving our schools. But we must also recognize that the disproportionate number of women earning the minimum wage reflects a larger problem in our economy and society: Women, across the board, are paid less than men, even for the exact same work. In May, the Supreme Court made it almost impossible for employees to establish a pattern of pay discrimination, and Congressional Democrats have responded with legislation that would reverse the decision.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi told TAPPED this morning she would like policymakers to think more structurally about the dilemmas facing working mothers. "How is it that we have a country that calls women into the workforce during World War II, that draws women into higher education, and yet we don’t say, 'How can we assist with quality day care?' It’s very unusual. In other countries, caring for children is a value, and here we don’t make it a priority."