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Taking the Issue of Minimum Wage to the States

Date: 01/03/2006 | Category: Business | Author: Diana Heeb Bivona

As a new year is ushered in, so is the reality that the federal minimum wage remains at the same $5.15/hour rate for the ninth year in a row. Supporters for a minimum wage increase consider the lack of wage increase to be bad economics, bad policy, unfair, and even immoral.

The Democrats, led by Sen. Edward Kennedy, have settled on a new strategy to push the issue of minimum wage to the forefront of the public’s attention. Can’t get it done on a federal level? Then, take it to the voters by putting it on the state ballots. To that end, the Democrats are working to put minimum wage increase initiatives on the ballot in Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Arkansas, and Montana.

A few interesting facts about minimum wage:

(1) According to the Economic Policy Institute, inflation has eroded the minimum wage’s buying power to its second-lowest level since 1955.

(2) The AFL-CIO points out that if minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since 1968, when it was $1.60 an hour, that it would be $7.60 an hour today.

(3) A full-time worker today, with a family of three, would need to make $7.74/hour just to remain at the poverty level.

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