Utah women are more than twice as likely as men to work at low-wage jobs. That’s according to a new study released Wednesday from the National Women’s Law Center.
The study shows that about 17% of Utah women work at jobs that pay less than $10.10 an hour, compared to 7.4% of men. Women make up almost two thirds of the low-wage workforce in the state, but Utah is not unique in this way.
“Women are significantly over-represented in low-wage jobs all across the country,” says Joan Entmacher, vice president for family economic security at the National Women’s Law Center. Based on the group’s analysis of 2013 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women’s share of the low wage workforce is larger than their male counterparts regardless of education level, age, marital status, race or national origin. Entmacher’s recommendation, in short, is to pay them more.
“There are a lot of women in low wage jobs, many of them struggling to support families,” she says. “Utah’s minimum wage is just $7.25 an hour, which is not enough to lift a family out of poverty, even if you work full time all year. Utah should raise its minimum wage. A number of states have already done that, and clearly higher wages is the first step towards helping workers.”
Entmacher says the situation has become worse since the Great Recession. She says women are disproportionately filling the low wage jobs that have opened up over the last few years, and those types of jobs are expected to grow over the next decade.