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Minimum Wage: Not Just for Kids

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Credit: Joe Kekeris
Credit: Joe Kekeris

As Congress considers raising the nation’s minimum wage, it’s a good time to point out that it’s not just for teens earning pocket money. At $7.25 an hour, the current minimum wage hasn’t been raised for three years. Proposals in both the House and Senate would increase the federal minimum wage to $9.80 by July 1, 2014.

A report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) points out that

87.9 percent of those affected nationally by increasing the federal minimum wage to $9.80 are 20 years of age and older. The share of those affected who are 20 or older varies by state, from a low of 77.1 percent in Massachusetts to a high of 92.4 percent in Florida (and 93.9 percent in the District of Columbia).

That means people trying to support themselves and their families are being paid an hourly wage that right now has less buying power than in 1997. Further, writes Holly Sklar, director of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage:

At $7.25 an hour, today’s full-time minimum wage retail worker, security guard, child care worker or health aide makes just $15,080 a year. Last century’s 1968 minimum wage worker made $21,944 a year, adjusted for inflation.

Take note of which House and Senate members scream against raising the minimum wage. They’re likely the same ones funded by corporate giants whose CEOs last year got a 16 percent raise—with an average compensation of $10.5 million.

The AFL-CIO is urging Congress to pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012 (read letter here) as are noted economists.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO on July 30, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Tula Connell got her first union card while she worked her way through college as a banquet bartender for the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee they were represented by a hotel and restaurant local union (the names of the national unions were different then than they are now). With a background in journalism (covering bull roping in Texas and school boards in Virginia) she started working in the labor movement in 1991. Beginning as a writer for SEIU (and OPEIU member), she now blogs under the title of AFL-CIO managing editor.


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