According to the most recent statistics (2017), 14.4% of women live in poverty in New Brunswick according to the Market Basket Poverty Measure. In addition, women have a median annual income of $25,873. In comparison, men have an income of $37,416, resulting in a 45% wage gap. One of the major causes of this income gap is the persistent wage inequity.
For this reason, the Common Front for Social Justice advocates for pay equity, which means equal pay for work of equal or equivalent value. The purpose is to recognize the value of jobs traditionally or predominantly held by women. Currently, most sectors of activity in the public sector have completed the process leading to pay equity through the Pay Equity Act, 2009. However, it still has a long way to go in the private sector because the Act does not apply to it. Therefore, we support the Coalition for Pay Equity’s (Hyperlink: http://www.equite-equity.com/) demand for a law for the private sector.
In 2007, there were 18,000 workers earning minimum-wage in New Brunswick, and in 2017, there were 22,500, an increase of 4,500. The number of women working at minimum wage has always been higher than men.
According to the most recent data, 57% of minimum-wage workers are women. The total number of men and women working at minimum wage has increased during the decade: an increase of 2,200 for women and 2,400 for men.
The increase in minimum-wage jobs is cause for concern, since income from these jobs does not allow living adequately. All those earning low wages are doomed to an inadequate standard of living, and the majority are women who often have a family to support.
Even if the median hourly wage in New Brunswick has gone from $7.00 in 2007 to $11.00 in 2017, the gross annual income is a mere $22,880 after working 40 hours a week for the whole year. This amount is only a bit more than the Market Basket Measure (2015) for a single individual, at $19,232. The measure for an adult with one child is $27,193, and the income from minimum-wage too low to surpass the poverty line.
According to the following Table, the annual net income for a single working female or a single-parent at minimum-wage is not enough for her to live decently. At the end of the year, her budget will run a deficit of between $1,449 and $4,506. It is clear that a minimum wage of $15.00 an hour would make a real difference in her income and would improve her financial situation.
Minimum-wage workers. Annual Net Income, total annual expenses and deficit. New Brunswick, 2018 ($)
|Single individual, 1 minimum wage||Single-parent family, 1 child, 1 minimum wage||Couple|
1 minimum wage
2 minimum wages
|Annual net income||20,610||29,924||28,647||48,999|
|Total annual expenses||25,206||31,373||36,828||50,760|
Source: Economic Realities – 2018. New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice.