Promoting a Living Wage
In 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law the Fair Labor Standard Act. It established the nation’s first federal minimum wage for low wage full-time employees. At that time, a full-time hourly wage worker would earn no less than 25 cents per hour. Since then, every few years, the national minimum wage would increase helping millions of Americans to acquire a middle-class life style. However, since 2009 the national minimum wage has been frozen at $7.25 per hour.
Attempting to raise the minimum wage, Rep. George Miller (D-CA11) introduced H.R. 1010- Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) on March 6, 2013. The Act seeks to increase the federal minimum wage for employees to:
(1) $8.20 an hour on the first day of the third month after the enactment of the Act;
(2) $9.15 an hour after one year;
(3) $10.10 an hour after two years; and
(4) an amount based on increases in the Consumer Price Index after three years, and annually thereafter.
Furthermore, it seeks to increases the federal minimum wage for tip employees to $3.00 an hour for one year on the first day of the third month after the enactment of the Act and provides a formula for wage increases that remain equal to 70 percent of wages under FLSA.
On April 23, 2013, the bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections and has been in limbo ever since.
Today, there are millions of full-time workers living below the poverty threshold. Not raising the national minimum wage makes a middle-class lifestyle virtually impossible to attain. Currently a full-time minimum wage worker earns an annual wage of $15,080 ($7.25 per hour) to supports his/her family. However, according to the US Department of Health & Human Services 2012 Poverty Guidelines, a family of four should earn approximately $23,550 yearly to stay above the threshold. Such struggle is disheartening and is being overlooked by our political leaders who drummed up fabricated myths because raising the minimum wage is not apart of their political agenda.
Some of our political leaders are making the mythical argument that raising the minimum wage will cost Americans millions of jobs
and hurt small businesses as well as the economy. However, a 2009 Economic Policy Institute (EPI) study found that the increase of the minimum wage had a great impact on reducing poverty. The low-wage labor market performed better and found no measurable negative impact on employment. It also boost consumer spending by over $5.5 billion. Furthermore, raising the minimum wage will not hurt small business because large corporations employ the majority of low-wage workers.
The fact is that today there are 47.5 million low-income working families struggling to make ends meet with low wage jobs that do not provide paid sick leave or health insurance. Increasing the minimum wage will help the economy and will directly address the growing issue of income-inequality in the country.
We have seen states like Florida, Montana and Ohio raise the minimum wage. It is time for Congress to follow suit so that the millions of Americans who work 40 hours weekly can begin to earn a fair and respectable living wage.