Huffpost Politics

White House: Minimum Wage Hike Will Help Close The Gender Wage Gap

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Hoping to give Democrats' minimum wage legislation a boost in Congress, the White House released a report on Wednesday making the case that raising the wage floor would benefit women in particular and help close the gender wage gap.

The White House report, produced in part by the president's Council of Economic Advisers and the Labor Department, says that about 55 percent of the workers who would see higher wages under the proposal would be women.

"Estimates from the President’s Council of Economic Advisers suggest that increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and indexing it to inflation could close about 5 percent of the gender wage gap," the report states.

Democrats' minimum wage legislation has a long way to go before reaching the president's desk. The Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to take up the bill sometime next month. House Republicans have shown little interest so far in bringing a House bill to a vote.

Nonetheless, President Barack Obama has made the legislation a touchstone of his second-term agenda, and Democrats are hoping the proposal's widespread popularity will help gain the support of moderate Republicans ahead of this year's elections.

Like the White House, Congressional Democrats have made a point of framing the minimum wage as a gender equity issue. Last year, Democratic leaders made the wage floor a central plank to their "women's economic agenda," which also includes guaranteeing paid sick leave, expanding affordable child care and passing the Paycheck Fairness Act to address the wage gap.

Women disproportionately occupy the ranks of the low-wage workforce. They account for the majority of workers in the 10 largest jobs that pay below $10.10 per hour, including housekeepers, cashiers and childcare workers. An analysis from the National Women's Law Center found that the gender pay gap is worse in states that have declined to raise their minimum wage higher than the federal level, which remains $7.25 and hasn't been increased since 2009.

Women are also more likely than men to be earning the "tipped" minimum wage as restaurant servers. That rate is currently $2.13 per hour on the federal level and hasn't been raised in more than two decades. The restaurant lobby has been pressuring members of Congress to jettison the tipped minimum wage increase that's included in the Democratic bills. If passed, the legislation would set the tipped rate at 70 percent of the normal minimum wage.

According to the White House report, women make up 72 percent of the workforce in occupations that rely on tips.

"Raising the full minimum wage and the tipped minimum wage will help reduce poverty among women and their families, as well as make progress toward closing the gender pay gap," the report states.

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