WASHINGTON, D.C. – In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called on Congress to take steps to reduce income inequality. NOW could not agree more. If, as the president has said, American workers feel that the deck is stacked against them, for women, the cards are marked.
Women disproportionately work in low-wage sectors, live on minimum-wage salaries and, thanks to working a lifetime at unequal pay, are significantly more likely than men to outlive their savings.
The president’s call for a significant increase in the minimum wage is welcome. While $10.10 per hour is not a living wage in most communities, it is a step in the right direction — but we can do more.
Women represent nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers. A woman working full time, year round at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour earns just $14,500 — nearly $4,000 below the poverty line for a family of three.
Women are the sole or primary breadwinners in roughly 40 percent of U.S. households nowadays. They and their families need a livable wage — a wage that would allow them to save up for a down payment on a house, their kids’ college tuition, and their own retirement security. In the richest country in the world, that’s not too much to expect.