Minimum Wage

The Problem

The federal minimum wage is just $7.25/hour. Working full-time at that rate, a mother taking care of a child would be living below the $16,910 poverty line, and across this country, many families living on a minimum wage income do just that. And for tipped workers, the federal minimum wage is just $2.13/hour, and hasn’t gone up in more than 20 years!

Contrary to popular conceptions, the majority of minimum wage earners are not teenagers. Roughly 80 percent are adults—almost two-thirds are women—and most are working to support their families. Women of color are overrepresented in minimum wage jobs—while they make up 17 percent of the population, they are almost a quarter of minimum wage workers. So it’s no surprise that women of color experience higher poverty rates and higher wage gaps than their white counterparts.

If we want to improve the economic security of women, and make strides towards closing the gender and racial wage gaps, we must give people earning minimum wage a raise.

What We're Doing

As part of a statewide coalition of advocates, WE successfully led the charge to raise Illinois’ minimum wage. In early 2019, Illinois lawmakers passed a bill that will raise the state’s minimum wage to $9.25/hour on January 1, 2020, and gradually increase it to $15/hour by 2025.

But WE still have work to do. Every working adult should be provided a livable wage so they can afford the necessities and seek opportunities for themselves and their family to have a better economic future. So WE join our partners One Fair Wage, Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), Fight for 15, and the Shriver Center to continue the fight for a higher wage for minimum wage workers nationwide and an end to the subminimum wage.

WE advocate for the Raise the Wage Act, which would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour.

WE call for eliminating the subminimum wage, both in Illinois and nationally. Women should not have to rely on the kindness of strangers, tolerating sexual harassment or worse, to earn a fair wage.

WE applaud Chicago for raising our city’s minimum wage to $15 sooner than 2025, and we call on our city to eliminate the subminimum wage in our city—a measure not included in the minimum wage increase.

What's the Impact?

How would a minimum wage increase affect workers, employers, and the economy?

Take Action

Support a Full and Fair Wage

Take action to eliminate the two-tiered wage system by abolishing the subminimum wage.

Help Raise the Wage

Support the effort to increase the federal minimum wage to $15/hour.

Share Your Story

Are you working to support yourself or your family on the minimum or sub-minimum tipped wage? We want to hear from you!


Together, we will ensure more women, families, and communities can build their economic power and thrive.

All new or increased gifts will be matched by an anonymous donor!