Domestic Workers Included; Room for Improvement Remains
CHICAGO —On December 2, 2014, the Chicago City Council voted 44-5 to approve a gradual increase in the minimum wage from the current rate of $8.25 to $13 an hour by 2019, with yearly raises beginning in June. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Minimum Wage Working Group shaped and recommended the ordinance, which will benefit the thousands of hard working Chicagoans in low-wage jobs who comprise approximately a third of the city’s workforce.
Given that nearly sixty percent of Chicago’s minimum-wage workers are women, and over a quarter are raising children, working mothers will be among those most affected by the new ordinance. “A higher minimum wage is an essential step in making Chicago a city where working women can build stable lives for themselves and their children,” said Anne Ladky, Executive Director of Women Employed.
The minimum wage hike also mandates the inclusion of domestic workers such as nannies, caregivers, and housecleaners, who have in the past been excluded from most labor standards. A national study conducted by the Center for Urban Economic Development in 2012 found that 23 percent of domestic workers are paid below the minimum wage, and that up to 95 percent of them are women.
Unfortunately, while Chicago’s new minimum wage will be a vast improvement for many low-wage workers in the area, tipped workers will only see a one-dollar increase over the next two years, bringing the sub-minimum wage up to $5.95 an hour.
Furthermore, the ordinance still leaves those Illinois residents outside of the city limits at the statewide minimum wage of $8.25, which falls short of a living wage. Melissa Josephs, Director of Equal Opportunity Policy at Women Employed, urges policymakers to take further action to raise the minimum wage at the state level. “No one who works full time should have to live in poverty, struggle to feed their children or put a roof over their heads,” she said. “It’s time to give all low-wage workers in Illinois a raise.”
About Women Employed
Women Employed mobilizes people and organizations to expand educational and employment opportunities for America’s working women. Founded in 1973, we have spent four decades opening doors, breaking barriers, and creating fairer workplaces for women. For more information, visit www.womenemployed.org. Visit us on social media at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.