In Missouri, there continues to be a significant wage gap between women and men. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women on average earn 80 cents on the dollar when compared to male counterparts. The disparities are worse for women of color, and if nothing changes, the gender wage gap will not close until 2066. Many researchers and economists point to increasing the minimum wage as a key recommendation for closing the gender wage gap.
That’s why strong support from voters last fall for Proposition B, to increase Missouri’s minimum wage, was meaningful, because although women comprise half of the state’s workforce, we make up 61 percent of all workers who will benefit from the new $12 minimum wage. Nearly one in three working women in Missouri will benefit from a higher minimum wage, compared with fewer than one in five working men.
While increasing the minimum wage to $12 cannot, alone, close the state’s gender pay gap, it will increase the income of a lot of women in our state, bringing them closer to economic independence.
It’s frustrating to see some members of the Missouri Legislature working to overturn the will of Missouri voters by pushing legislation to weaken or eliminate the minimum wage increase, especially since 62 percent of Missouri voters supported it.
We ask Missouri legislators to consider the many hardworking women and their families who are struggling to make ends meet while juggling the rising cost of living and child care, and to allow the minimum wage increase to move forward, as voters intended.
Lisa Picker • Brentwood
Executive Director of the Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis