Voices from Minimum Wage Earners

It’s time for jobs that boost women, families and communities. Women are now the primary or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of American households and more women are working today than ever before. So, when women do well, our economy does well.

Here some of the stories of our members barely surviving on minimum wage:

By Peggy Jackson, 9to5 member, Atlanta, Georgia

​For many families in our community, a trip to the grocery store means hours of work. I work for $8.00 an hour, just above the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

I have worked at the same temp agency for four years. My one raise took three years to earn and was 75 cents. I’m not always guaranteed 40 hours. READ MORE

By Crystal Whetstone, 9to5 member, Beavercreek, Ohio

I work 2 part-time jobs. I have student loan debt that I fear I will never be able to pay off.  I can’t save for my future retirement, much less put money aside for an emergency. I stay with my parents who don’t charge me rent or expect money for groceries. Some weeks I work 50 hours or more. READ MORE

By Barbara Gertz, 9to5 member, Commerce City, Colorado

When the recession hit, I watched as the construction business that supported my husband and I vanished before our eyes. I knew I needed to do something so I took a job at Walmart to help us make ends meet. While I make a higher hourly wage than many of my coworkers, my husband and I struggled to get by on my salary. There were days I missed work simply because I couldn’t afford the gas to get there. READ MORE

The Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 1737), sponsored by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, and the Fair Minimum Wage Act (H.R. 1010) sponsored by California Congressman George Miller, would raise the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 level to $10.10 per hour in 95 cent increments over the next three years. They would also increase the tipped minimum wage from an unconscionable $2.13 per hour — where it’s been stuck for more than 20 years — to 70 percent of the minimum wage. This is especially important for women, who comprise more than 65 percent of tipped workers. These bills would then index minimum wage for the future, to keep wages from losing value to inflation. Increasing and indexing the minimum wage are key steps toward fair pay for women.

Raising the minimum wage would have real economic benefits. Higher-paid workers can buy more goods and services, stimulating the local economy and creating more jobs. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that 416,000 workers in Colorado would receive an immediate raise if the minimum wage were increased to $10.10 per hour. Higher wages would mean $1 billion in new economic growth in our state alone, translating to 3,500 new jobs as Colorado businesses expand to meet increased consumer demand.

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