Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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Lowest paid workers in U.S. are mostly women – Forbes

Washington, Sep 4 (Prensa Latina) There are 21 million people working in the most underpaid, undervalued jobs in our country — and nearly two-thirds of these workers are women, according to a new report from the National Women’s Law Center.

The lowest-paying jobs, which pay $15 or less an hour, include fast food workers, restaurant servers and bartenders, child care workers, preschool teachers, hotel clerks, personal care and home health aides, grocery store cashiers, among others. (Currently, minimum wage in 20 states remains at $7.25 per hour.)

Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894 to celebrate the contributions of American workers after labor activists pushed for greater workers’ rights, such as an eight-hour workday and the elimination of child labor.

As we honor the workers who keep the country running, it’s important to note that in 2023 working a full-time job still does not guarantee making a living wage and being free from poverty — especially for mothers and women of color.

Moreover, roughly 38% of women in the lowest-paid jobs live in or near poverty, which is defined in the report as having a household income that’s below twice the federal poverty line.

The report finds that women of color’s share of the low-paid workforce is up to two times larger than their share of the overall workforce. Combine that with the motherhood penalty, and the systemic barriers that make it harder for women with children to support themselves and their families, and having a job doesn’t necessarily mean you’re able to make ends meet.

Christine Matthews, thirty-seven, is a single mother of two daughters ages five and twelve, and a newborn son who lives in Charleston, South Carolina, and has been working in low-paying jobs most of her life.

Matthews tried to change that in 2013 when she received a Registered Medical Assistant license, which would enable her to be hired by doctors, medical clinics, and hospitals to care for patients by taking their weight, temperature, blood pressure, etc. before patients met with their doctors.

Matthews was offered a RMA job immediately after getting her license that paid $25 an hour, but was forced to turn it down because she couldn’t find affordable child care in her area.

She had to move into her parents’ house and worked part-time as a cashier at Harris Teeter for five years. “I’d tell them the hours I could work when I had child care covered from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and they’d give me that schedule because I’m a good worker,” Matthews said.

When the pandemic shuttered daycares and schools, we saw up to 40% of working parents quitting or reducing their hours. This is because having affordable and reliable childcare is essential for being able to work.

“You can work hard, get an education, and apply for a job, when you then realize you can’t actually work 40 or 50 hours a week in a higher-paying job because you can’t secure that many hours of child care to be able to go to work, which then often pushes people into part-time jobs,” Julie Vogtman, co-author of the report and director of job quality and senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, said.

Another issue is jobs paying close to minimum wage often lack benefits, such as paid sick days and family leave, and are likely to have unpredictable schedules, such as shifts that change weekly.


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