Minimum wage increase
March 6, 2005
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I was happy to see this story today about a bill in Congress to increase the minimum wage. It’s weird how most salaried workers get a minimum 2-3% wage increase each year, which typically accounts for inflation, yet hourly workers continue to get the shaft because minimum wage holds flat. It has been at $5.15 an hour since 1997! It is inexcusable that our legislators have taken so long to increase this. Assuming an annual inflation rate of 3%, the wage should be up to at least $6.50 by now. At the current rate, workers are making an annual salary of $10,500, which is $5,000 below the poverty line for a family of three. Anytime I hear someone complain about how this is going to raise prices (like at the good ol’ local Wal-Mart), I just want to shake them and ask them how is that not worth it to know that millions of families are now a little bit closer to making a living wage.
Of course, as is always with politics in our messed up system, this issue is far from a slam dunk. The Democrats have their plan, and the Republicans have their plan (which, of course, calls for a much smaller increase), and neither side is likely to budge. While I do back the Democratic proposal which calls for a $2 increase (as opposed to the Republican increase of a mere $1.10…which doesn’t even cover the inflation since the last increase), I hope the two sides can come together and at least agree to some sort of increase. To me, this definitely seems like a much more pressing issue than Social Security, but this story is getting zero publicity anywhere.