WASHINGTON, March 26 The White House said on
Wednesday raising the minimum wage for workers who receive tips
would disproportionately benefit low-income women and help close
the gender pay gap in which men earn higher pay than women.
The federal minimum wage for workers who receive tips is
$2.13 an hour - well below the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
Even though employers are required to make up any shortfall
between the tipped minimum and the standard minimum if
gratuities fall short, one in 10 workers earn less than the
minimum wage, the White House said.
"This provision is difficult to enforce," the White House
Council of Economic Advisers said in a report. The president has
asked Congress for an 18 percent, $41 million increase in
funding for Department of Labor Wage and Hour division
investigators to hold employers to the law.
The federal tipped minimum wage has remained at its level
for more than 20 years, the White House said. The president
supports raising the full minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and the
tipped minimum to $4.90 by 2016 and eventually to 70 percent of
the full minimum wage.
Such a rise would predominantly benefit women, the White
House said. Of the 3.3 million workers in tipped occupations,
about 2 million are restaurant servers, 70 percent of whom are
President Barack Obama's efforts to raise the minimum wage
are unlikely to be taken up in the Republican-led House of
Representatives, where Speaker John Boehner has argued that
raising the minimum would hurt, not help, low-skilled workers
because it could force employers to cut jobs.
Obama has highlighted efforts to improve economic
opportunities for women in recent speeches, such as last week
when he told an audience at a community college in Florida that
he wants to take steps to raise pay for women, who make up a big
share of the minimum-wage workforce.
"People naturally think about whether women are breaking
through glass ceilings and making great strides and achieving
the same kind of significant goals as men," CEA member Betsey
Stevenson told reporters. "But equally, it's important to figure
out how women are doing at the bottom."
The president is also hoping to rally women to support
Democratic candidates as his party tries to prevent Republicans
from taking over control of the Senate in elections this fall.
(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Bernard Orr)