Raising the Minimum Wage Will Hurt Women the Most

Lost Jobs_Women Graph

In a recent report, the White House described an increase in the minimum wage as “especially important for women,” pointing out that just over half of the employees covered by the President’s $10.10 proposal are women. (Other minimum wage advocates have echoed a similar message.)

It’s an attempt to re-start a favorable public conversation on the minimum wage following the devastating Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that estimated a half-million jobs would be lost if $10.10 became law. But a closer look at Census Bureau data reveals that women would actually be disproportionately harmed by the President’s minimum wage proposal: Of the 500,000 jobs that the CBO projects would be lost when the minimum wage increases, 285,000 of them—or about 57 percent—are jobs held by women.


Working with economists from Miami and Trinity University, the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) used Census Bureau data from 2013 to recreate the CBO’s estimates on job loss from a $10.10 minimum wage. There are certain unknowns in the CBO analysis: For instance, the methodology that the CBO published in an appendix to its February report doesn’t provide a clear definition of what “prospective increases in state minimum wages” the organization factors in to its estimates.

Nevertheless, using the methodology published by the CBO, we are still able to closely replicate its findings on affected employees and job loss. To match its calculations, we use an elasticity of -0.45 for directly affected teenagers, an elasticity of -0.15 for directly affected adults, and assume wage growth of 2.9 percent annually between 2013 and 2016. Our estimates suggest 17.4 million directly affected workers from $10.10, while the CBO finds 16.5 million directly affected workers. Similarly, we estimate that roughly 502,000 jobs would be lost from a $10.10 minimum wage—just 2,000 more than the CBO’s estimate.

Replicating these results allows us to estimate, using the CBO’s methodology, how many of the roughly half-million lost jobs are held by men and how many are held by women. Specifically, we find that 217,000 jobs (43.2 percent) are lost by men and 285,000 jobs (56.8 percent) are lost by women.