Friday, November 17, 2006

Minimum Wage Facts

* If the minimum wage were increased nationally to $7.25:
- 14.9 million workers would receive a raise,
- 80% of those affected are adults age 20 or over, and
- 7.3 million children would see their parents income rise.
* Families with affected workers rely on those workers for over half of their earnings.
* 46% of all families with affected workers rely solely on the earnings from those workers.
* Some minimum wage workers remain in low-wage jobs for substantial periods.
* The best recent research on the economic impact of the minimum wage shows positive effects without job loss.
* Even the research that suggests a negative labor market effect shows only a minimal impact that is more than offset by the higher wage levels.
* The states that have adopted higher-than-federal minimum wages have seen low-wage workers’ incomes rise with no negative side-effects.
* Over 650 economists, including five Nobel Prize winners and six past presidents of the American Economics Association, recently signed a statement stating that federal and state minimum wage increases “can significantly improve the lives of low-income workers and their families, without the adverse effects that critics have claimed” (EPI 2006).

The federal minimum wage of $5.15 is currently at its lowest real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) value in over 50 years. Historically, when the federal government has failed to raise this floor, states have stepped in. In fact, a greater percent of the U.S. workforce is currently covered by higher state minimum wages than ever before. Twenty-two states plus the District of Columbia have minimum wages above the federal rate, covering 58% of the nation’s labor force.
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