Raising the Minimum Wage for Working Men and Women in California and the Rest of America

This Chart Explains Why the Minimum Wage Should be Raised Immediately

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Workers in 13 states will be receiving minimum wage increases in 2014, a move that coincides with a reignited interest in Congress to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. While conservative opposition mounts in Congress, a handful of local counties and municipalities have upped the ante by moving to raise their own minimum wages to match the local costs of living, which in certain cases means a minimum wage as high as $15.00 per hour. The effort to do something similar with the federal minimum wage centers on a provision in a bill cosponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) which would tie the minimum wage to inflation.

Established in 1938 under the Fair Labor Standards Act (the same bill that imposed the 40-hour work week), the purpose of the minimum wage was to protect workers and guarantee a minimum of health and well-being for working Americans. The last time the federal minimum wage lived up to this dream was 1968, when, in today’s dollars, the minimum wage was $10.77. Today’s $7.25 per hour, which amounts to a mere $15,080 in annual income, falls short of the estimated $11 per hour needed to keep a family of four out of poverty. Regular increases in inflation over the past 40 years have outpaced Congress’ dismal efforts to raise the federal minimum wage, resulting in today’s workforce being paid two dollars less per hour than those in 1968, despite being many times more productive.

• Category: National • Tags: Stephano Medina