May 2014 Update: On April 30, Senate Republicans refused to allow a debate on increasing the federal minimum wage by blocking consideration of the Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 2223) by a vote of 54-42 (60 votes were required). Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) was the only Republican to join Democrats and Independents in support of the procedural vote. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) changed his ‘yes’ vote to ‘no’ so that he could bring the bill up again. Failure to pass the $10.10 an hour increase means less income for the nearly 28 million workers and their families who would receive a bigger pay check. For more information click here.
The minimum wage was first enacted in 1938 as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Initially just 25 cents per hour, it has been raised several times in the decades since. The minimum wage of $1.60 an hour in 1968 would be $10.56 today, when adjusted for inflation, which is dramatically lower than the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. Between 1979 and 2012, the value of the minimum wage fell 21 percent,
For millions of Americans, earnings alone are not sufficient to make ends meet. Some work steadily at wages too low to lift their families out of poverty. In 2013, a full time minimum wage worker makes about $15,000 a year, yet, according to United States Census Bureau, a family of four needs to earn approximately $23,000 a year to live above the poverty line.
In 2013, the Fair Minimum Wage Act was introduced in Congress and would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour in three increments. Furthermore, it would raise the minimum wage for tipped workers from $2.13 per hour to 70% of the full minimum wage. More than 30 million workers would receive a raise from the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013. The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 would generate more than $32 billion in new economic activity, translating to 140,000 new full-time jobs as higher sales lead businesses to hire more employees, according to estimates by the Economic Policy Institute.
For more information on this issue, visit CHN’s Public Policy Priorities, 2015-2016.
- December 3, 2014NPR: Chicago Council Strongly Approves $13 Minimum Wage
- December 3, 2014OxFam America: Raising Pay, Easing Hunger
- October 10, 2014USA Today: Raising the minimum wage is common sense
Policy Analyses and Research
- June 13, 2014Oxfam America: Working Poor in America
- June 4, 2014Economic Policy Institute: Raising America’s Pay
- May 23, 2014Half In Ten Report 2014: Veterans