If you’ve been following our work on the minimum wage over the past several months, you know that the federal minimum wage is just $7.25 per hour and the minimum cash wage for tipped workers is a mere $2.13 per hour. These wages, which are not adjusted for inflation, are falling farther behind every year. In fact, the earnings of a single mom with two kids who works at a minimum wage job full time are thousands of dollars below the poverty line.
Although Congress is out of town for a few weeks, work on federal and local minimum wage campaigns continues to move forward. Nationally, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) just released a great analysis that underscores the economic and social benefits of the minimum wage. EPI’s analysis, How raising the federal minimum wage would help working families and give the economy a boost, shows that the bills introduced just a few weeks ago in the House and Senate that raise the minimum wage to $9.80 over three years (and adjust for inflation after that) and the cash minimum wage for tipped workers to 70 percent of the minimum wage would lift the wages of more than 28 million workers, the majority of whom (55 percent) are women. The analysis also shows that raising the minimum wage would create an estimated 100,000 new jobs by putting money in the pockets of people who are ready to spend it on goods and services, thus increasing consumer demand. Interested in how raising the federal minimum wage might affect your state? EPI has those numbers, too.
There is movement at the local level on the minimum wage as well. Organizers in Albuquerque just submitted a petition with over 25,000 signatures to put a $1 increase in the city’s minimum wage on the ballot. This would raise the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour in Albuquerque and would raise wages for full-time minimum wage workers by roughly $2,000 annually – plus the measure would index the wage for inflation thereafter (something nearby Santa Fe has already done).
Local efforts like this are inspiring – but millions of Americans across the country are struggling to make ends meet on minimum wage earnings, and we could definitely use another 100,000 jobs. A federal increase is a no-brainer.