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In his state of the union address Tuesday, President Obama called for an increase in the federal minimum wage, and on Wednesday, he took his pitch on the road to a factory in North Carolina. There's no guarantee that GOP opposition will be overcome, but if Congress does grant his wish, this income bump would most dramatically impact women and their families, according to a new study.
Last year, 64 percent of workers who earned the minimum wage or less were women, according to the report, put out Wednesday by the liberal think-tank Center for American Progress. CAP found that if wages were upped from $7.25 to $9 an hour, as Obama proposed, nearly 9 million women who are paid hourly wages would see their earnings directly increased. Another 4.2 million women would get a wage hike because of a "spillover effect," in which companies boost wages for higher earners as well in order to maintain the same pay hierarchy in the firm.
"Raising the minimum wage would be a step in the right direction to ensuring that women are properly compensated for their work, as it would disproportionately help low-wage female workers," write the report's authors.
And since the workers that would be affected are largely adults, a higher minimum wage would help whole families in a big way. Seventy-nine percent of minimum wage earners are over 20 years old, according to the report. Nine dollars an hour would mean more money for macaroni and cheese, gas, diapers, and shoes.
Over the past three decades, the super rich have grabbed the largest share of economic gains in the United States. Meanwhile, the purchasing power of the minimum wage has fallen by 13.5 percent, according to CAP.
As Obama said in his address Tuesday night, "Let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty."