Since the end of the recession in 2009, a majority of job growth across the country has been in low-wage occupations such as food preparation and serving. Low-wage jobs, also including personal care attendants, nursing home workers, and building services and maintenance workers, account for over a third of the jobs created during the economic recovery, and are projected to grow in the future.
Everyone’s talking about the pay gap that exists between men and women, which in Minnesota means women make just eighty cents to a man’s hard-earned dollar. But an additional problem that needs attention, and action, is that women make up the majority of the low-wage workforce.
More than three-quarters of the jobs that pay the least are filled by women. And women make up two-thirds of the nearly 20 million workers in low-wage jobs, even though they make up slightly less than half of the workforce as a whole.
But if women are making low wages, can’t their significant others pay the bills?
Working mothers are increasingly the breadwinners in their families.
But aren’t women more educated than ever before?
Yes, women are earning the majority of college degrees in this country and have better credentials than ever before. But in order for a woman to pull herself up by her bootstraps and avoid being a low-wage job statistic, she needs a bachelor’s degree. In order for a man to do the same, he only needs to graduate from high school.
So, what can we do to fix this problem?
The increase in Minnesota’s minimum wage to $9.50 by 2016 will help women earn more in these low-wage jobs, but it’s not enough.
We need to increase women’s economic security and support families by expanding access to child care assistance and early education, curbing abusive scheduling practices, promoting equal pay and ensuring paid sick days and paid family leave.
As we look to the future, we should see a Minnesota that works for everyone, including women in low-wage jobs.