Today is a day of action to raise the minimum wage. Legislation is being introduced in Congress to increase the federal minimum wage to $9.80 an hour and index it to inflation so that people at the bottom of the wage ladder don’t keep falling behind.
Join the day of action by clicking here to tell your member of Congress to pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act now.
Many of America’s hardest working people are those with the least. Many are going without sleep to work multiple jobs in order to keep up, but they keep falling further behind. On average, low-income households are putting in 2,552 work hours per year. That comes out to just over 49 hours per week.
Anyone who works full time or more should not live in poverty. Our government should reward hard work for these working families by increasing the minimum wage.
The federal minimum wage is just $7.25 an hour. This comes out to be about $15,000 a year for a full-time worker, or 30 percent less than what a minimum-wage worker earned in 1968 once inflation is taken into account.
Eighty-four percent of Americans believe it is almost impossible to survive on these wages, so why not increase it?
The Fair Minimum Wage Act, written by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., is simple: Raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9.80 an hour by the fall of 2014, and then index the minimum wage to inflation so it never loses value again.
It would also raise the minimum wage for tipped employees. This has been frozen at only $2.13 for more than 20 years. The Harkin-Miller bill would raise this to 70% of the regular minimum wage.
Some conservative economists continue the age-old argument that raising the minimum wage would lower the number of available jobs. These claims have repeatedly been shown to be overblown, and earlier this week a letter signed by several leading economists, including Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University and former White House Council of Economic Advisers chair Laura D’Andrea Tyson, said, “In recent years there have been important developments in the academic literature on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment, with the weight of evidence now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market.”
The letter goes on to say, “A minimum wage increase can also serve to stimulate the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings potentially raising demand and job growth. Therefore, pursuing a higher minimum wage at this juncture will not only provide raises for low-wage workers but would provide some help on the jobs front as well.”
Most Americans working in minimum wage jobs are not teenagers. In fact, 76 percent of workers who earn minimum wage are over the age of 20.
The Campaign for America’s Future is joining with SEIU, National Employment Law Project, CREDO, USAction, and MomsRising and other groups to mobilize the public and pressure Congress to get behind the Harkin-Miller bill.
The 99% should not be left to suffer from inaction as the economy grinds down the middle class. There are simple steps we can take. And it doesn’t get more simple that raising the minimum wage.