Thursday, December 14, 2017
Business

PolitiFact: Is Clinton right that two-thirds of minimum wage earners are women?

The statement

"Women fill two-thirds of minimum wage jobs."

Hillary Clinton, Sept. 18, in a roundtable event on women's economic security

The ruling

Hillary Clinton has been campaigning hard to win the votes of women nationwide. Recently, she made a bold statement that women make up two-thirds of minimum wage workers.

The former secretary of state went on to claim those women are left "at the mercy of employers."

"Without equal pay, without flexibility or predictability at work, without access to quality, affordable child care, without (the) ability to take a day off if your child or aging parent is sick, without paid family or medical leave," Clinton said. "This woman is really on the brink."

We wondered if her figures were right. Could women really make up that large a share of minimum wage workers?

We contacted the Clinton campaign, and it pointed to a report published by the National Women's Law Center in May for the bulk of its evidence. The report presents highlights and statistical tables describing minimum wage workers in 2014.

The report found that women represent close to, but not quite, two-thirds of minimum wage workers across the country, and at least half of minimum wage workers in every state. The center looked at unpublished U.S. Labor Department data for all wage and salary workers for 2014.

Estimates from the study put 1.9 million female workers at or below minimum wage out of 2.9 million total — about 62.7 percent — age 16 and older.

This represents an increase of 0.4 percent from 62.3 in 2013, the report said.

When we went to the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics to verify the figures for ourselves, we found out that only 59 percent of workers actually making the federal minimum wage are women. That's because some workers, like those who earn tips, can legally be paid a lower wage.

Clinton has stressed her proposals would result in a raise for those tipped workers — such as restaurant servers and bartenders.

"Women hold nearly three-quarters of the jobs that are reliant on tips," she said.

In addition, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour would leave a single mother below the poverty line. While 29 states and the District of Columbia currently have higher minimum wages, the center found that in every one of those states, the minimum wage leaves a full-time worker with two children near or below the poverty level.

Economists say the claim raises another question: Who will benefit if the minimum wage is increased?

Data from the liberal Economic Policy Institute show that 55.9 percent of those who would receive a raise under Clinton's proposal are women. That's a solid majority, but well below two-thirds.

Clinton is largely on point with her numbers. We rate her claim Mostly True.

Edited for print. Read the full version at politifact.com/iowa.

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