5 Reasons to Raise the Minimum Wage Right Now

Written by Bryce Covert

Wednesday marks the four-year anniversary of the last time the minimum wage was raised. It has stayed stuck at $7.25 an hour since then, but if it had kept up with inflation since 1968, it would be†$10.40. President Obama has called for a raise to $9 an hour, while Democrats in Congress have called for increasing it to $10.10. As minimum wage workers wait for action, here are five reasons for why it would be smart to raise it immediately:

1. It would boost the economy: A recent study by the Chicago Federal Reserve found that raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour would†increase household spending by about $48 billion the following year, amounting to a .3 percent boost to GDP. And while opponents warn that a raise would hurt jobs, several studies have shown that†it doesnít have a negative effect on employment and may even help boost job growth.

2. It would lift millions out of poverty: A full-time minimum wage worker earns just $14,500 a year, meaning that if she has two kids she lives at $3,000 below the poverty line. The wage†isnít enough to make rent in any state in the country. But raising it to $10.10 an hour would†lift nearly 6 million workers out of poverty.

3. It would help close the gender wage gap: Women make up†two-thirds of the minimum wage earners in the country, which is why 13.1 million would be impacted by a raise. Evidence already suggests that†a higher minimum wage is related to a smaller gender wage gap at the state level, pointing to a raise as a good way to help change the fact that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.

4. Itís an important racial justice issue: Three and a half million people of color would be lifted out of poverty with a minimum wage raise to $10.10, representing the majority of those lifted out of poverty. People of color are much more likely to work minimum wage jobs, making up 42 percent of those workers even though they make up 32 percent of the overall workforce.

5. Americans support a raise: A poll released on Wednesday shows that†80 percent of Americans support a raise to $10.10 an hour, including more than 90 percent of Democrats and even two-thirds of Republicans, as well as 83 percent of low-income adults and nearly 80 percent of those who make more than $100,000. Voters also decided to raise the wage in three cities in November, and in fact when ballot initiatives include a raise,†voters nearly always approve it by substantial majorities.

This post was originally published at ThinkProgress.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

163 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 months ago

thanks for the article.

Monica Buchanan
Monica Buchanan1 years ago

The people at the top are paying themselves Millions$ but they want the rest of the work force to be slaves/servants. If the people at the top were being paid realistic salaries, there would be plenty of money to pay every a decent wage.

Jenevieve P.
Past Member 3 years ago

BTW,.. my podiatrist (foot doctor) walks in, sits down,.. aks "How's the foot,.. would you like a shot," gets up and leaves and then sends me a bill for $234. mind you, the fellow has more than one practice, and he's been out of school for probably 30 plus years. I'm sure his students loas are paid off? .. while I do get that he has to pay his their minimum and he does have to pay for his yearly mal practice insurance (hehehe) You gotta ge that this guy is still sitting comfy, while the average school teacher in Hawaii, who works in the Waianea schools makes a starting salary of $33,100 per year, which comes out to $17 per hour to sit ALL day in a room filled with school children and teach. .. and,.. he or she has to pay for all their own room supplies.
Where is the rationale there? You would think teachers deserves alot more! Yet when you take what a podiatirst does,.. and compare it to an all day job at Walmart or Kohl's, everyday working folks deserve alot more than $7.50 to $8.00 per hour! They do a hell of lot more than a podiatrist does!

Jenevieve P.
Past Member 3 years ago

Stanley R.,.. I whole heartedly agree with you that minimum wage should be $35 per hour, but you do know how much computer techs and mechanics make per hour don't you? My Computer tech charges $145 per hour and my mechanic charges $65 per hour. Lawyers charge between $250 to $500 per hour. Hair dressers in the big cities are getting away with charging $400 for a HAIR CUT! If a woman walks into a salon and sits in a charge to have her hair cut and highlighted, the minimum she will walk out paying is $125. That's MINIMUM! that's about $41 per hour , yet you have to bring in the cost of supplies. resume writers are getting a minimum of $175 to $500 for a basic resume, and Executive resumes are now costing $1,000. That's pretty well up there will what doctors get per hour, as an example a podiatirst gets on average $234 (minimum) per visit.

I wonder what would be found as an average in wage if economists were to sit down and look at every type of service there is, and detail the "wages" or fee these folks demand, includiing everday folks who work their butts off for a "minimum" hourly wage, and then see the reality of what a REAL minimum wage should ACTUALLY look like?

Stanley R.
Stanley R.3 years ago

Minimum wage should be $35/hr, Maximum salary $2 million/yr. Fair?

Audrey B.
Audrey B.3 years ago

Wow $10.10 Walmart CEO's are not going to like this !!!

Leah h.
Leah H.3 years ago

Lone W. - Maybe you are alone because of you are miserably misinformed.

First myth: minimum wage jobs are "starter" positions that lead to ample salaries. Really? How many Walmart or McD employees become managers? Try extremely few. Also, of the wonderful jobs our economy is creating, more of them are in the service (read: minimum wage) category than in manufacturing where employees actually used to earn a living wage. With 25% of last year's college graduates still unable to find a job, they are taking positions in - oh, you guessed it! - the service industry. So, go to college and leave with 24 - 40 thousand in student loan debt and get a job flipping burgers.

Second, no work - no matter how you define it - is welfare. Work is work. The question before us is does that work pay enough to get by. Calling low wage jobs "welfare" is very, very condescending and disrespectful. Those jobs likely entail more heavy lifting and "on your feet" work than whatever you are doing sitting on your butt.

Third, the gender gap is not about the percent of women in the workforce. It is about the percent of PAY they receive for the same work: 77 cents for every dollar a male earns. Now, granted, forty years ago the disparity was greater. Women earned 50 cent for every dollar. Wow, be still my heart! We have gained 27 cents in forty years! At that rate, by mid-century we may have caught up. Is that what you are suggesting?

Fourth, yes, there is disparity in hiring and salary based

Nadie Louisy
Netia LP3 years ago

(Lone W.) - While most of what you say makes complete sense Women are offered more part-time posts which offer the lowest wages and the most incompatible working hours. When it comes to raising families and maintaining a home a woman and sometimes single men too are faced with little choice and control over the jobs available at the times they are available to work. Very often pay is related to this factor and therefore, women are often placed at a disadvantage when it comes to making a living. Of course, there are exceptions to this - unmarried and women without children are free to enjoy the choices on offer to most men though statistics still reflect that men are more likely to be chosen over women when it comes to professional posts.

Lone Wolf
Lone W.3 years ago

Regardless of the reality that we do need to increase minimum wage, I have serious issues with with the points in this article.

1- Would it boost the economy, yes if it does not force a large number of employers to pink slip employees. But the main issue is that an employer will not get rid of an employee that is productive. So we must understand that minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage. It is supposed to be a wage that a person earns while showing that they are, or are not, capable of performing a certain job. after a certain time, the boss either fires them or promotes them to a more permanent job with a HIGHER wage. Not a higher minimum wage, but a truly HIGHER wage.

2- Minimum wage was never intended to be a form of welfare. Society has no obligation to support the poor. It has an obligation to offer them a chance to get out of poverty, and to assist them in obtaining the tools to get out of poverty. And when they do, they will earn GOOD wages, not minimum wages.

3- What gender gap? More women have jobs than men these days. We need to stop all this nonsense about men vs. women. If you do a certain job right, you should be paid justly for that job, without thinking whether you are male or female.

4- A racial justice issue? That is pure politics!!! Again any person of non-Caucasian extraction, and for that matter those of Caucasian extraction, deserves chances to improve their lives. That does not come from welfare or minimum wage. It come from t

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Leah H. - I already sent you a green star today, but go ahead and take another green star out of petty cash, my treat!