The State of the Minimum Wage

February 22, 2013

The State of the Minimum Wage

Source: Council of State Governments

President Obama stressed economic equality and opportunity, focusing particularly on the financial woes of those earning the minimum wage, during his recent State of the Union address.

“Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong,” the president said. “Let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty.” He called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour by the end of 2015 and tie it to inflation, a move the White House estimates would bump up the wages of about 15 million low-income workers.

The last time the federal minimum wage was raised was in 2009, when it went from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour. Since then, the upward creeping cost of living has eroded the value of that wage. If it had been adjusted for inflation, it would be around $7.61 today. If the rate moves to $9 an hour, it will be the highest—in inflation-adjusted terms—that it has been since 1979.

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