The battle over the minimum wage has been gaining steam over the last few months and a new study has shown that states with a higher minimum wage have a smaller gender wage gap.
According to a new study by the National Women’s Law Center, seven of the top 10 states with the smallest gender wage gap between men’s and women’s earnings have minimum wages that are above the federal mandate of $7.25 an hour. The seven states include Vermont, Nevada, California, Rhode Island, Arizona and Florida. In comparison to the states with higher minimum wages and slimmer gender wage gaps, eight out of the 10 states with the widest gender wage gap have minimum wages that are at the federal mandated $7.25 an hour. The eight states include Wyoming, Louisiana, Utah, West Virginia, North Dakota, Mississippi, Alabama and Idaho. In Washington, D.C., women earn 90.4 percent of what men make and have a minimum wage of $8.25 an hour, putting them at the top of the list with the smaller wage gap of any of the 50 states.
The report shows that one of the reasons why a higher minimum wage leads to a slimmer gender wage gap is because two-thirds of minimum wage earners are women.
“Women made up about two-thirds of all workers who were paid minimum wage or less in 2012, and 61 percent of full-time minimum wage workers. Women were also nearly two-thirds of workers in tipped occupations in 2012, and are an even larger share of some of the lowest-paid tipped occupations.”
The study goes even deeper, highlighting the difficulties of minority women who face a double-edged sword when it comes to their gender and race or nationality.
“Women of color are disproportionately represented among female minimum wage workers. African-American women were just under 13 percent and Hispanic women were just under 14 percent of all employed women in 2012,11 but more than 15 percent of women who made minimum wage were African-American and more than 18 percent were Hispanic.
Raising the minimum wage would be especially helpful for women of color, who experience wider wage gaps and are even more disproportionately represented among minimum wage earners than women overall.”
During his State of the Union address earlier this year, President Obama called for raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour, which was met with backlash from Republican opposition.
While the gender gap might be closing in some states across the country, more steps need to be taken before women are on equal footing with men. Women now make 77 cents on the dollar compared to what men make, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t be 100 percent equal.