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REPORT: Majority of Low-Wage Workers in U.S. Are Women

August 6, 2014

Two out of every three low-wage workers in the U.S. (66 percent) are women, a report by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) found.

Underpaid & Overloaded: Women in Low-Wage Jobs,” published July 30, uses 2013 data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics to show that women are overrepresented in many low-wage professions, including among home health aides and personal care aides.

In the overall workforce, men (53 percent) slightly outnumber women (47 percent), the report shows. Yet there are approximately 13 million women earning $10.10 an hour or less in the U.S., compared to around 7 million men.

Data from the PHI State Data Center shows that home health aides earned $10.10 an hour in 2013, while personal care aides earned just $9.67.

The NWLC report presents a detailed demographic breakdown of the low-wage female workforce, including information on race, marital status, education, and age.

The report notes that “jobs that typically pay low wages, such as home care aides who provide critical services to an expanding elderly population, are a critical and growing part of our economy.”

The vast majority of direct-care workers (89 percent) are women, PHI data (pdf) shows. And demand for home health aides and personal care aides is expected to grow by 69 percent and 71 percent, respectively, by 2020, making them among the fastest-growing jobs in the country.

“The predominance of women in low-wage jobs makes clear that an economic agenda that works for women must address the needs of low-wage workers and of women in these jobs in particular,” wrote Joan Entmacher, NWLC vice president for family economic security, in a commentary published in National Journal on July 30.

“Ensuring that workers are treated fairly and can provide for their families is vital not only for them, but for all Americans,” she continued.

— by Matthew Ozga

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