Wyoming considers minimum wage hike; women see help with pay discrimination

2014-02-10T13:00:00Z 2014-02-10T13:01:09Z Wyoming considers minimum wage hike; women see help with pay discriminationBy JOAN BARRON Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online
February 10, 2014 1:00 pm  • 

CHEYENNE — Wyoming is one of more than a dozen states that will look at an increase in their minimum wages this year. 

The movement stems from President Barack Obama's pitch for a higher minimum wage. Although the president's initiative is not moving, many states have picked up the issue for their legislative sessions, including neighboring Nebraska.  

Women's organizations and other supporters say the minimum wage is tied to the gender wage gap. 

A boost in the minimum wage is expected to narrow Wyoming's general wage gap, which is the worst in the nation. 

A new analysis by the National Women's Law Center said the average gender wage gap in states with minimum wages above the federally mandated $7.25 is 3 cents smaller than in Wyoming and nine other states with the widest gaps in pay between men and women. 

Wyoming House Bill 45, sponsored by Rep. James Byrd, D-Cheyenne, would increase the state minimum wage from $5.15 to $9 per hour for nontipped employees and from $2.13 to $5 per hour for tipped employees 

His bill will require a two-thirds majority vote to be considered in the Legislature's 20-day budget session, which begins today.

The Wyoming Women's Foundation has not taken a position on House Bill 45. But Rebekah Smith, the organization's program director, said two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women, and raising wages for women would have an impact on the gender wage gap.

Byrd's bill would affect 9,000 Wyoming workers at or below the current minimum wage, according to the state Bureau of Labor Statistics. A bureau report cautions that it's difficult to make estimates because Wyoming's working population is small, making the estimate subject to sampling error. 

Dan Neal, executive director of the Equality State Policy Center, said a higher minimum would result in a larger effect than on the people working at the minimum wage level, for employers would pay more to keep workers who are getting slightly more than the minimum wage. 

The higher pay would put more money in peoples' pockets. They would spent more money, which would help the community and the economy, he said. 

"I think people should think about it. I think the legislators will see there's a lot of support among their constituents," Neal added.

Byrd said a $9 per-hour minimum wage was not a living wage but was a step in the right direction. 

He said he does not believe opponents' claims it would increase unemployment. The higher pay would help businesses and ease the difference between living wages and the need for food stamps and other public assistance, he said.

Contact Joan Barron at 307-632-1244 or joan.barron@trib.com

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) Comments

  1. WyoJeff
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    WyoJeff - February 11, 2014 9:29 am
    This is such a great video about politicians and minimum wage.

  2. wyoslick
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    wyoslick - February 10, 2014 3:06 pm
    If raising the minimum wage won't effect unemployment, why only raise it to $9.00 per hour? Why not $18.00 or $27.00? If fact, why not just "fast track" minimum wage earners into the middle class, and pay them $60,000/year?
  3. whatever
    Report Abuse
    whatever - February 10, 2014 12:53 pm
    99, have you ever heard a stupid cliche' that you would not repeat uncritically?
  4. rigrat
    Report Abuse
    rigrat - February 10, 2014 12:35 pm
    Since you are on a ranting role today,what say you about disabled veterans on VA disability? I would be interested to hear your take on this "sore" subject.
  5. 99Savage
    Report Abuse
    99Savage - February 10, 2014 10:40 am
    Hasn't anyone been keeping up with the latest news? Minimum Wage is for working people and according to Obama and the democrats working is soooo yesterday.

    The new normal is that unemployment, especially that due to Obamacare is the New Liberation. Unemployment frees one to pursue the Greater Purpose. Idleness, sloth and being nonproductive is no longer derogatory, but is to be celebrated. Welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, and any type of government assistance are the highest forms of economic stimulus according to Pelosi and the democrats. The patriotic thing to do is quit your boring and enslaving job and get on the government dole. Free at last!

    The Great Depression was one of the happiest times of all in America. Just ask your grandparents.
  6. MaleMatters
    Report Abuse
    MaleMatters - February 10, 2014 9:20 am
    Here's one of countless examples showing that some of the most sophisticated women in the country choose to earn less while getting paid at the same rate as their male counterparts:

    “In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.” ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/03/26/bil10326.htm

    A thousand laws won't close that gap.

    In fact, no law yet has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap - tinyurl.com/74cooen), not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not the 1991 Glass Ceiling Commission created by the Civil Rights Act, not the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the thousands of company mentors for women, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is another feel-good bill that turned into another do-nothing law (good intentions do not necessarily make things better; sometimes they pave the way to a worse condition).... Nor will a "paycheck fairness" law work.

    That's because women's pay-equity advocates, who always insist one more law is needed, continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women's equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of "The Secrets of Happily Married Women," stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. "In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at tinyurl.com/6reowj, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier....” at tinyurl.com/qqkaka. If indeed a higher percentage of women is staying at home, perhaps it's because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working if they're going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman.)

    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Answer: Because they're supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home. (Far more wives are supported by a spouse than are husbands.)

    The implication of this is probably obvious to most 12-year-olds but seems incomprehensible to, or is wrongly dismissed as irrelevant by, feminists and the liberal media: If millions of wives are able to accept NO wages, millions of other wives, whose husbands' incomes vary, are more often able than husbands to:

    -accept low wages
    -refuse overtime and promotions
    -choose jobs based on interest first, wages second — the reverse of what men tend to do (The most popular job for American women as of 2010 is still secretary/administrative assistant, which has been a top ten job for women for the last 50 years. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/11/gender-wage-gap_n_3424084.html)
    -take more unpaid days off
    -avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (tinyurl.com/3a5nlay)
    -work fewer hours than their male counterparts, or work less than full-time instead of full-time (as in the above example regarding physicians)

    Any one of these job choices lowers women's median pay relative to men's. And when a wife makes one of the choices, her husband often must take up the slack, thereby increasing HIS pay.

    Women who make these choices are generally able to do so because they are supported — or, if unmarried, anticipate being supported — by a husband who feels pressured to earn more than if he'd chosen never to marry. (Married men earn more than single men, but even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap: as a group they tend more than women to pass up jobs that interest them for ones that pay well.

    "The more alarming wage gap might be the one between mothers and childless women: One recent paper (http://www.npr.org/2012/02/07/146522483/the-wage-gap-between-moms-other-working-women) found that women with kids make roughly 7 to 14 percent less than women without them." So why do organized feminists and the liberal media focus only on -- and criticize -- the wage gap between men and women? http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/02/the-mommy-track-myth/283557/

    More in "Does the Ledbetter Act Help Women?" at http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/will-the-ledbetter-fair-pay-act-help-women/
  7. side oiler
    Report Abuse
    side oiler - February 10, 2014 8:09 am
    When women get out and do the same work as a man does in Wyoming,then they can get the same wages.While there are some women who are capable of doing strenuous labor in all aspects of weather and working night shifts,most cannot or will not.I have no doubt the usual ding dongs will not like this,so bring it on.
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