We Need to Raise the Minimum Wage for Working America
Many workers in the U.S. work hard each day, yet still struggle to provide for themselves and their family. For minimum-wage earners who work full time, making just $5.15 an hour comes out to be $10,712 a year. That’s several thousands below the 2004 federal poverty guidelines for a household of two ($12,490) or three ($15,670). And for about 40 percent of minimum-wage workers in the U.S., these wages are the sole source of their family income. It’s also important to know that the majority of workers who earn minimum wage aren’t teenagers needing extra spending money—over 70 percent are adults and 60 percent are women.
Since Congress has not increased the minimum wage in eight years, it continues to decline in value. Working for the minimum wage is worth even less because it hasn’t been adjusted for inflation--the value of $5.15 an hour is worth $4.75 an hour today. If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since 1968, when it was $1.60 an hour, it would have been up to $8.50 an hour in 2003.
Since he took office, President Bush has opposed increasing the federal minimum wage and also supports a "state flexibility" plan. Currently, 13 states and the District of Columbia have a state minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum wage. Regardless, this plan would allow states with minimum wages of at least $5.15 an hour to opt out of any future federal minimum wage increases.
Though legislation (Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2005) has been introduced in both the House and Senate to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour over the next two years, we need working America to contact Congress and tell them low-wage workers need a raise.