The floor is falling out from under workers. The minimum wage is not enough for a full-time worker to lift a family of three out of poverty. The minimum wage for tipped workers – a miserly $2.13 an hour – hasn’t been raised in two decades.
Legislation – the Fair Minimum Wage Act – has been introduced in the House and Senate to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour and index it to inflation. The legislation would also raise the tipped minimum wage to 70 percent of the federal minimum. It is long past time for Congress to rebuild the floor under workers.
Americans need good jobs with good benefits. Workers should be paid fairly for the work that they do. But these days, workers aren’t sharing in the rewards of growing profits and productivity. Corporate profits are at new highs as a share of economy; wages at record lows. CEO salaries have soared while wages have stagnated. Part of the reason is that the floor is falling out from under workers. The current minimum wage has been losing value, and is not sufficient for a full-time worker to lift a family of three out of poverty. That is not right.
If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since 1960s, it would be more than $10.50 an hour today. If it had kept pace with the rise of worker productivity, it would have reached over $21.00 an hour. Instead profits are up, productivity is up, but workers are losing ground.
The fall in the floor is unfair and it hurts the economy. Consumer demand drives our economy. If workers aren’t paid fairly, they can’t afford to buy. Demand flags, the economy sags.
In the two years coming out of the financial collapse, the top 1 percent of Americans have captured over 110 percent of the income growth, while 99 percent lost ground on average. Thirty million American workers would benefit from increasing the minimum wage to $10.10. It is time to raise the floor.
America’s middle class was built by workers earning a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. The minimum wage puts a floor under workers. But the minimum wage has lost ground over the last half-century. Now a full-time minimum wage worker can’t lift a family of three out of poverty. That is not right.
When workers don’t get paid fairly, they can’t buy. When they can’t buy, the economy can’t grow. Today, corporate profits are at a record high as a portion of the economy and workers wages at a record low. It is time to raise the floor.
Americans overwhelmingly support this. Many smart employers agree. But the business lobby spends big bucks to oppose it. Money talks with a loud voice in Washington. Congress will act only when voters demand action.
They Say: Raising the minimum wage will hurt the very workers you say you want to help. When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it.
They Say: Raising the minimum wage will hurt small businesses and force increases in prices.
They Say: Most minimum wage workers are kids, working in the summer or part-time while going to school.
They Say: African Americans, Hispanics, teenagers and other low-income workers will lose out when the minimum wage goes up.
Roughly two out of three people working minimum wage jobs are women. (National Women’s Law Center/National Employment Law Project).
There are no states in which a federal minimum wage worker can afford fair market housing while working a standard 40-hour week. (National Low-Income Housing Coalition)
Adjusted for inflation, the 1968 minimum wage would be worth $10.59 today. (National Employment Law Project)
30 million workers would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage (National Employment Law Project).
73% support raising the federal minimum wage to $10 per hour (Lake Research).
56% believe that increasing the minimum wage would help the economy (Lake Research).
“Consider The Source: 100 Years of Broken-Record Opposition to the Minimum Wage,” National Employment Law Project
“In Support of the Fair Minimum Wage Act,” Economic Policy Institute
“Why Does the Minimum Wage Have No Discernible Effect on Employment?,” Center for Economic and Policy Research