Raising federal minimum wage would be good for working women

Updated: 03/26/2014 6:02 PM
Created: 03/26/2014 6:01 PM WHEC.com
By: Rachel Spotts

A big boost could be coming for working women as talks to raise the federal minimum wage are back on the table. 

In New York, the minimum wage is set at $8 an hour, which is above the national average. The White House came out with a new report Wednesday saying an increase would be especially helpful to women. 

Christina Ihle is the manager at Parkleigh in Rochester. It's a boutique run almost entirely by women, both behind and in front of the counter. Ihle says empowering women is their philosophy. That's why she supports an increase to the federal minimum wage. 

Christina Ihle said, “Juggling work and home is always a challenge. We try to have a little give and take here at the store, so we do our best. And I think something like an increase in the minimum wage is really only going to continue to support the people we have employed here.”

The White House says raising the wage floor from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour would benefit women in particular. That's because it says the majority of lower-wage jobs are held by women, from retail to hair salons. Many women work full-time and support a family. Plus, the White House says increasing the minimum wage could close the gender wage gap, with women earning just 77 cents for every dollar men earn.

Ruth Hill, Co-Owns Dichotomy Rochester, said, “I think it's about time. I honestly think my time is worth more than $8 an hour. And I feel very lucky that I make more than minimum wage working a retail job, because I know a lot of people who don't.”

Women also account for more than seventy percent of workers who earn their wages predominantly through tips, like restaurant servers. The owner of Magnolia's Café says her employees make above minimum wage. She says an additional pay increase could stretch her too far. 

Susan Palermo said, “Right now, everything is going up. Food is going up; wine is going up and medical.” 

President Obama has signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage. Now he's calling on Congress. The Senate is expected to take up the bill sometime next month. If it passes, it would then go to a vote in the House.

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