Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Republicans in the Senate blocked a vote on the minimum wage earlier this month — no surprise there. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee was the only Republican who stood aside. But don’t believe the issue is dead. Democrats will make sure that raising the minimum wage and reducing income inequality will be hot topics all the way to Election Day.

President Barack Obama fired the first shot when he used his State of the Union speech in January to announce an increase from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour for federal contract workers. Forcing GOP senators to vote “no” for the rest of the country’s workers was another volley.

Conservatives claim that raising the minimum wage will destroy entry-level jobs for new workers. You know, teenagers working for gas money and purple hair dye. Sorry — it just ain’t so. The great majority of minimum-wage workers are grown women, and that’s been true for years.

But now things are changing, according to news from the National Women’s Law Center. It’s one of those good-and-bad-news situations.

The good news? Unlike men, women have actually regained more jobs than they lost in the recession. Our unemployment rate for April dropped to 5.7 percent, from 6.2 percent in March. The bad news is what we’re earning in those new gigs. Low-wage jobs are growing at a faster rate than decent-paying jobs.

And here’s what everyone should worry about — it’s a downward slide. About 40 percent of new jobs created last year pay less than $14 an hour, twice the rate we saw before the recession.

The researchers say both women and men are being pushed into bottom-rung jobs. But since the great majority of this lousy McWork is done by women, it’s a bigger problem for us than it is for men.

We comprise half the workforce overall, but have three-fourths of the low-wage jobs. Since the start of the recession, over 35 percent of women’s job gains have been in low-wage industries, like retail, fast food and housekeeping. Just 18 percent of men’s new jobs were in those fields.

April’s figures show that this imbalance is only getting worse — more than 1 in 3 of the new jobs women secured were in these low-wage industries, as opposed to 1 in 10 for men.

That’s not all.

Not only are women taking lower-paying jobs at a higher rate than men, we’re getting paid less for that work. On average, women working in the 10 lowest-paying fields make nearly 10 percent less than men working in the same fields, according to additional National Women’s Law Center research. And the gap can’t be explained away by taking into account any differences in the number of hours that women work compared with men.

Clearly, the GOP’s refusal to raise the minimum wage is just one more skirmish in the war on women.

Martha Burk is the director of the Corporate Accountability Project for the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO) and the author of the book Your Voice, Your Vote: The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Power, Politics, and the Change We Need. Follow Martha on twitter @MarthaBurk.

Cross-posted from OtherWords

Photo: 401(K) 2012 via Flickr

Want more political analysis? Sign up for our daily email newsletter!

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2014 The National Memo
  • Rachele Gibson


    ❤❤❤ ❤�❤❤ ❤❤❤ ❤❤�❤ ❤❤❤

    • Daniel Jones

      This garbage you put on, a scam for the gullible, is outright evil when posted onto a story about inequality in actual pay for actual work.

      It’s disgusting, asinine, and hideous–but I’ll have to settle for flagging it as inappropriate.

  • ExRadioGuy15

    I wonder how many times I must correctly say that the Republicans are Fascist psychopaths/sociopaths before people start believing it?
    One of the defining characteristics of Fascism is rampant sexism…along with that sexism is anti-abortion and homophobic philosophies….ssmdh

    • Annemb

      Keep saying it until in actually sinks and they, along with their cohorts the tea party, are out of politics. To me, this can’t come soon enough.

  • mamasnothappy1

    It’s very easy for the wealthy to turn conversations and manipulate statistics. There are millions of underpaid servers in Texas that are not listed as minimum wage workers. This country needs to wake up and stand up for the rights our ancestors fought for. I blame it on the lack of funding for schools in America. Keep them ignorant and they won’t know how badly they are being mistreated. The silent minority is the elderly who retire after decades of hard work with half of what it takes to barely exist from Social Security. It was supposed to be enough to live on with no extras. Now food is an extra.

    • Susan Dean

      Food is indeed an extra. After a lifetime of work my retirement funds evaporated due to a series of illnesses. Now I’m trying to live on Social Security and there are many months when I have no money for food during the week or two before my next payment. And in the months when there are five weeks between payments (about 4 times a year) I could literally starve without the help of my kind and generous friends.

  • JO

    Unequal pay is part of the war on women but it affects everyone.
    In the real world it is a war on the entire family. If women make only 60 to 70 percent of what men do at the same job and it takes at least 2 full time jobs to support a family, someone has to work an extra job just to get by. Both spouses and the children suffer because of this in-equality.

  • howa4x

    Women at the bottom run of the economy are not on the radar of the GOP. This is why they cut food stamps and didn’t think 2x about the consequences. This is a voting block that the GOP ceded to the democrats, and they are making no attempts at inroads. Mostly they surmise that this group will not turn out for midterms and they don’t want to anger their base of ignorant, mean spirited, and greedy older white males, and corporate donors. Also don’t forget mentally ill billionaires who suffer from Midas syndrome, have to be catered to. The GOP can’t anger Wal-Mart or McDonalds or any Box chain. ALEC the group funded by the corporations and who writes legislation for republicans to pass on a state level is strongly opposed to a living wage. Women should forget the federal battle and concentrate on the blue state level and make the changes that will aid in the larger battle. Once a national chain store has to raise the wage to comply with state law they might make all their stores do it. that is where the battle can be fought and won.

  • Secular_Humanist

    since when does it make sense for women, especially mothers, not to make enough money to feed their children. There is a second impact though – when mothers work two or three jobs – who raises the children? Talk to teachers in low income schools and you will hear about tired, malnutritioned children who have to fetch for themselves, who live on cereal and other cheap boxed food.
    Republicans, who want to shove religion down our throats are about as unchristian as one can be. There is no compassion nor empathy, only greed.
    When one considers republicans are paid to condone gun violence, don’t want poor women to have proper reproductive and any other healthcare, won’t protect women from domestic violence, question legitimate rape and much more.
    Why any woman could vote against her personal interest is beyond me – but some haven’t gotten the message “yet” but will soon (I hope).

    Sisters unite!!!

  • Lola Johnson

    I think women should no longer accept the bland designation of “women’s issues” as a valid description of anything at all. They are ALL women’s issues, and they are ALL men’s issues. We are the same species, and our future is one, whether we want to admit it or not. Equality of education, equality of pay, equality of opportunity and equality within the justice system should be the American way, and we should demand it.

  • exdemo55

    The 2012 election featured the bottom feeding charge of a Republican War on Women. The grounds for such a charge were less than zero. But with the Democrat Party outright controlling so much of the national media, every Democrat talking point takes on added weight.

    Is opposition to abortion indicative of a “war on women?” That would overlook the fact that at least half of babies aborted are female. Maybe it is a liberal war on women.

    The most braindead allegation was that Republicans harbored a secret plan to ban contraceptives. The effectiveness of that charge depends on the public being ignorant of the landmark 1965 Supreme Court case of Griswold v. Connecticut, which held that married couples (later expanded to everyone) have a constitutionally protected right to purchase contraceptives.

    But did you ever see NBC, CBS, ABC, the New York Times, or the Washington Post, even mention Griswold v. Connecticut all year last year? In the age of the low information voter, poll it and I doubt even 1% would recognize the case.

    But numbers don’t lie. And what the economic numbers show is that it is President Obama who has been conducting the war on women.

    Compare how women have fared in the economy in Obama’s first term versus how they fared in Ronald Reagan’s first term.

    Obama faced a recession when he entered office. But it was already 13 months old at the time, and the longest recession since the Great Depression previously was 16 months. In fact, Obama’s recession ended just 5 months after he entered office. So for almost all of his first term was after the recession was over.

    Reagan entered office facing double digit inflation, double digit interest rates, and soon double digit unemployment. Real median family incomes had been falling for several years, poverty rates were rising. Reagan and the Treasury’s support of the dollar that eventually broke the back of inflation also produced the worst recession since the Great Depression (to be fair, the ”recession was a function of capital being reallocated from inflation hedges to real ideas of the mind) up until that time, with the entire recession coming 6 months into Reagan’s first term, and lasting through almost his entire second year.

    But still, real median weekly incomes for females rose 32.1% in Reagan’s first term, compared to 6.6% in Obama’s first term. Employment of women rose by 4,460,000 in Reagan’s first term, while women suffered a net loss of 354,000 jobs during Obama’s first term. Conversely, the number of women not in the work force rose by 4,458,000 in Obama’s first term, compared to 345,000 in Reagan’s first term.

    More than 3 times as many jobs were created for African-American women in Reagan’s first term, compared to Obama’s first term, even though the population was much larger in Obama’s first term. Jobs for African American women rose by 15.1% in Reagan’s first term, compared to 2.6% in Obama’s first term.

    Teenage female African Americans employed fell by 19.1% in Obama’s first term, compared to a decline of just 1.5% in Reagan’s first term. The unemployment rate for teenage female African-Americans rose by 5.7 percentage points in Obama’s first term, compared to just 1.1 percentage points in Reagan’s first term. Yet, the labor force participation rate for teenage female African Americans rose by 2.5 percentage points in Reagan’s first term, while it fell by 2.6 percentage points in Obama’s first term.

    The poverty rate has soared under President Obama, to 16.1%, higher than when the War on Poverty began, and that covers primarily women. Child poverty has soared as well, to over 20%, with 8 million American children growing up in poverty. The Census Bureau reports more Americans in poverty today than at any time in the more than 50 years that Census has been tracking poverty, at almost 50 million, and again that is mostly women, and their children.

    Real median household income has declined by nearly 8% in Obama’s first term, which is the equivalent of the middle class losing one month’s pay each year. Income for the bottom 20% of income earners has declined by a similar amount. Income has been rising under President Obama only for the top 20%, which is why income inequality has perversely (given Obama’s rhetoric) been rising under President Obama as well.

    In President Reagan’s first term, by contrast, the decline in average and low incomes, which had persisted for several years when he entered office, was reversed, and incomes for every income quintile, from the top 20% to the bottom 20%, turned around and rose for several years.

    As George Washington University Professor Henry R. Nau summarized in the Wall Street Journal on January 26, 2012,

    “the U.S. grew by more than 3% per year [in real terms] from 1980 to 2007, and created more than 50 million new jobs, massively expanding a middle class of working women, African-Americans and legal as well as illegal immigrants. Per capita income increased by 65%, and household income went up substantially in all income categories.” (emphasis added).

    Women under Reagan started their own small businesses in record numbers. Small business under Obama has been assaulted in every way, with higher tax rates, and soaring regulatory burdens in particular.

    Here again we see that President Obama following the exact opposite of every policy of Reagan in every detail has been getting the exact opposite results. It is time to return women’s liberation to America. If Obama and Congressional Democrats will not reverse course, then American women will have to restore their liberation at the ballot box in November next year.

    • Claude Goulding

      Even if all your facts are correct, you still forgot one thing. Reagan was successful because Democrats had the country’s interest at heart instead of their own agenda. they were willing to work with Mr. Reagan. Now, what we have are a group of conservatives who will jeopardize the growth of the country for their political interest. Their policy is that democrats will get no credit for the country’s success. Obama is in worse situation. Not only is he a democrat, he is also black.

      • exdemo55

        They are not against Demos and blacks, they are against liberalism. There are plenty of good smart black Republicans.

        • JPHALL

          After hearing those Black Republicans, who get up and speak, I have to disagree with you. When all you have to say is to parrot what hasn’t worked, and offer no new solutions, you are a waste of oxygen. Claiming you pulled yourself up by your bootstraps, and claiming you did it yourself, while forgetting those who helped you, that is not exhibiting intelligence.

          • exdemo55

            Liberalism and socialism are what doesn’t work

          • JPHALL

            Prove your point. Before wasting my time lead your response with the dictionary definitions of Liberalism and Socialism and compare them with the Scandinavian countries who have been Socialistic for generations.
            Subject: Re: New comment posted on Scrimping On Women’s Pay

          • exdemo55

            Compare the economies of America and the Scandinavian countries. America was built into the greastest country in history in a much shorter period of time because of capitalism.

          • JPHALL

            You still have not proven your point about how bad Socialism is in the real world. You did not say that Capitalism worked better at creating wealth. So what was your point?
            Subject: Re: New comment posted on Scrimping On Women’s Pay

          • exdemo55


            “The Highest Standard of Living Anywhere”

            The beautiful nation of Sweden has the highest standard of living in the world. Its blossoming industry ranks far higher than the United States in most measurements. Life in Socialist Sweden is free of homeless, reckless, crazy people. In spite of the 55% income tax, Sweden has a history of strong family values, the most progressive education system in the world and extremely low unemployment.

            Sweden boasts a new Third Way between Capitalism and Socialism, making it a great example of new age Collectivism. It’s superior unionization and strong economy will ensure that it will be a Socialistic success story for years to come.

            If you say Sweden, I say “Socialism WORKS!”

            But does it really work?
            the highest standard of living:Sweden’s most affront claim, that it has the world’s highest standard of living, is often based on the measure of equality in wealth redistribution, and not on the status of the national economy, the buying power of the Swedish crown (Krona), the amount of people working for productive aims or creating innovations, nor it’s Gross National Product. Claims based on these other properties of the Swedish economy, in support of their “highest standard of living” claim, are mysteriously non-existent.

            blossoming industry:Sweden is a great place to start a new business – if you don’t plan on being successful. A more lax economic policy in the ’90s has increased new startups by 25%, but the economic attitude towards business hasn’t changed much since the ’70s, where entrepreneurs were treated like pariahs. Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad told Forbes magazine that the Swedish tax bureaucrats would frequently accuse him of using people and “only wanting profits”.

            ranks far higher than the United States in most measurements:The Swedish Institute of Trade reported in 2002 that “the median household income in Sweden at the end of the 1990s was the equivalent of $26,800, compared with a median of $39,400 for U.S. households”. If Sweden were introduced to the U.S. as a new state, it would rank as the poorest according to these standards. This is in light of the fact that these numbers are gross values – before taxes – and Sweden has the highest taxes in the world. The same report also shows that Swedes fare lower than the lowest American socio-economic class, working-class black males.

            free of homeless, reckless, crazy people:The unfortunate in Sweden often don’t roam the streets aimlessly, in fact, few are often found. That’s because the state subsidizes them to live in optimal conditions and to provide little work – and if they are put into labor, it’s in a public enterprise run by the government, to help reduce the official share of unemployed people. Workers can earn up to 570 paid days off a year (that’s no typo – we know there are only 365 days a year – Swedes can earn more paid days off than days they actually work). So where are the poor, crazy, reckless people of Sweden? Living off Swedish tax money and taking up their inequitable residence in Swedish neighborhoods, and growing in numbers since the financial prosperity of the cradle-to-grave system doesn’t discourage their lacklazy habits. They are often joined by productive Swedish citizens who simply take time off, after “earning” years of unemployment benefits. These categories, since they are subsidized, are not officially considered “unemployed” in most Swedish statistics, even though both demographics do no actual work. After making the observation that loons don’t wander the streets of Sweden, P.J. O’Rourke commented in his book “Eat the Rich” – “The last time I walked through Gamla Stan, I didn’t wonder where the crazy people were. In Sweden the craziness is redistributed fairly. They’re all a little crazy.”

            55% income tax:This income tax, 55% of the Gross National Product, the highest income tax in the world, is also coupled with sales taxes, property taxes, and other excise taxes and tariffs. The Swedish sales tax, a “value added tax”, ranges to 22.5% of items sold, on various goods including most foods. The total ownership of public goods by the Swedish government is roughly 64%, closing in on 70%, once you include all these other forms of taxation. That is not including government-owned means of production, which control about a full quarter of Swedish productivity.

            history of strong family values:The history of Swedish domestic relations is chock full of civil rights abuses. 62,000 Swedes were forcibly sterilized by the Swedish government over a 40 year period, until 1974, by government researchers who judged families as being “racially inferior”. These sterilizations included both the parents and their children. During this time period, a Swedish Television documentary revealed that Sweden lobotomized at least 500 “undesirables”, in some cases without the consent of their families, and that lobotomizations may have numbered up to 4,500 people. These practices predated and surpassed the era of Nazi Germany.

            the most progressive education system in the world:Education is universally free in Sweden, and like other free government-sponsored systems, it’s on the verge of financial collapse and decay. Per student Sweden pays an average of $7,000 a year, while the 9 years of elementary schooling is required, high school and further education is not. Students receive financial benefits for continuing to high school, in the form of about $100 a month, although by college most people have got weaned on the Swedish unemployment system. Some High School students teach Elementary school, while Colleges teach what Swedish High Schools did 15 years ago, showing the recent decline in the quality of Swedish education. To solve unemployment figures, many unemployed people are forced into menial courses to change their status from “unemployed” to “student”, illustrating the general sense of misuse of the Swedish education system.

            extremely low unemployment:Sweden, like other Socialist nations, use methods to “hide” unemployment figures from staticians, reflecting a “strong economy”. Most people on the government dole are changed in status to not be considered “unemployed”, for instance, out of work citizens are often considered “on paid leave”, or given a menial class and considered “students”, or simply conscripted into public works programs funded by the government and given menial labor there. The government’s ability to fund the unemployed hides unemployment numbers, giving Sweden years of having unemployment numbers like 2%. This, like other Socialist nations of it’s ilk, does not reflect the real life numbers of regularly working people.

            Third Way:Swedes often argue that their system is not Socialism, since only a fourth of the Swedish main lines of production are owned by the government. However, this is in light of the government owning 70% of the Swedish Gross National Product, and controlling the direction of industry through heavy regulation. By mandating who can provide what products and services, and controlling media, education and public utilities, Sweden definitely has found a “Third Way” between Capitalism and Socialism – that way, of course, being to fake Capitalism, where the Socialist goals of redistribution of wealth and products are realized without calling most industry “publicly owned”. This same trick of a “Mixed Economy” is used by Socialist economists all around the world to help give government progressive control over trade.

            The lesson of the Third Way? Free trade is not free just because someone calls it “free”.

            superior unionization:Unions in Sweden have become hyper organized, and government involvement is obscure and questionable. Super-union organizations like the LO have official affiliations with the Social Democratic Party, and work closely with the authorities to push domestic reform provisions they feel are “in the interest of the workers”.

            strong economy:While the government spent 70% of the Swedish Gross National Product in the ’90s, for 4 years the national debt doubled and for 3 years the nation experienced negative financial growth.

            Socialistic success story:Whether the massive welfare state of Sweden with it’s cradle-to-grave public aid, ultra-high taxation, and dishonest economic policies is considered a success is something we’ll leave entirely up to the reader.

          • JPHALL

            What is the source for this examination of Sweden’s economic system?

            Subject: Re: New comment posted on Scrimping On Women’s Pay

          • exdemo55

            Those are racist comments

          • JPHALL

            Why is disagreeing with what they say iracist? That is the right wing’s new way of putting down others without presenting facts. Like I said, just because they agree with the right wing view of reality, does not make it right. I am Black myself and disagree with some things said by Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. Race should have nothing to do with an intellectual discussion, Try again.
            Subject: Re: New comment posted on Scrimping On Women’s Pay

          • exdemo55

            Now you sound like a Republican defending himself againsy leftest attacks

  • HSans

    Have no fear. Reparations are coming!

  • Mesa O’tay

    Fun fact: U.S. Founding Father John Jay was Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, second Governor of New York, and President of the American Bible Society.

  • Jay Va

    If the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in encroachment by men of zeal, then today’s key threats to liberty are centralized administrators.