Minimum Wage

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Minimum Wage is a minimum hourly wage set by Federal and in some cases state law. It should not to be confused with the Living Wage.

The Federal minimumn wage is set at a humiliating $5.15 an hour. Calculated in real dollars, the current $5.15 an hour is the lowest since late January 1950. In 1968, the minimum wage was $9.31 an hour in 2006 dollars. While many states have a minimum wage that is higher than the federal rate, even the highest in the country, San Francisco's $8.50 an hour doesn't compare to the 1968 federal minimum wage. On Jan. 25th, 1950, the Federal minimum wage was nearly doubled, from 40 cents to 75 ($6.30 in 2006 dollars) cents an hour. While that January had a relatively small net increase in jobs (14,000), the 12 month period following it had an increase of 3.759 million jobs or a 8.6% increase in jobs in 1 year.

Before 2006, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, Wisconsin, Vermont and the District of Columbia had legislated minimum wages higher than the Federal rate. The highest state minimum wage is $7.63 in Washington, and a total of seven states have minimums of at least $7.00. In the November 2006 mid-term elections, voters in six more states passed ballot measures that raised the state minimumn wage above the Federal minimum. The percentages voting "yes" are a good gauge of working class consciousness in each state.

Arizona - 66% yes, 34% no
Colorado - 53% yes, 47% no
Missouri - 76% yes, 24% no
Montana - 73% yes, 27% no
Nevada - 69% yes, 31% no
Ohio - 56% yes, 44% no

Several Southeastern states that are usually the last to make social progress, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina, have no state minimum wage legislation. Pathetic Kansas actually sets a minimum wage lower than the Federal minimum. See U.S. Dept. of Labor Map

Contents

Who Earns Minimum Wage?

In a report called, Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers , the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that

73% are white, 70.2% of them have a high school diploma, 65.6% are women,

Nearly 60% work part-time. 60% of minimum wage earners are working in restaurants and bars.

47% are age 25 or older. 26% of minimum wage earners are teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19

Effect on the Economy

There is some debate on raising the minimum wage and how it will effect the economy. If you raise the minimum wage will it discourage people from creating jobs, because the labor costs are so high, and teenagers then wont be able to find that entry level job? Conversely if you pay the lowest tier of workers more will their increased purchasing power drive demand and thus help to create more employment?

A Survey released December 26th 2006 by Discover Financial Services found, 70 percent of the 1,000 small-business owners it surveyed said an increase in the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour wouldn't have an effect on labor costs. The minimum wage was currently $5.15 an hour. The survey included companies with five or fewer employees. AP news story

Wages are not set by how much the employer can sell his products for, they are set by the market. The limit of which is Ferdinand Lassalle's "Iron law of wages" which says when labor is plentiful wages will fall until it reaches subsistence level.


Federal minimum wage statistics

Frequently Asked Questions about Minimum Wages

  • Who are minimum wage workers?
  • What is the difference between the minimum wage and a living wage?
  • Why do we need a minimum wage increase?
  • Can a worker support a family on the minimum wage?
  • Will a minimum wage increase reduce poverty?
  • Is the EITC a more effective anti-poverty tool than the minimum wage?
  • Does the minimum wage cause job loss?
  • What would the minimum wage be worth today if it had kept its 1979 purchasing power?
  • Why doesn't the minimum wage keep up with inflation?
  • How is the minimum wage determined?
  • Is every worker covered by the minimum wage?
  • Do other countries have minimum wage laws?

Are answered here: Frequently Asked Questions about Minimum Wages

More Questions and Answers:

  • What was the Impact of the 1996-97 Minimum Wage Increase?

External links

more facts on the Minimum Wage can be found at the Economic Policy institute http://www.epi.org

http://www.epinet.org/content.cfm/issueguides_minwage

  • Minimum Wage - Fact at a Glance
  • Minimum Wages and Poverty
  • Minimum Wages as a Women's Issue

See also: Living Wage

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