The last time the federal minimum wage went up was on July 24, 2009, when it reached its current level of $7.25 per hour. It might seem like regular adjustments would be the norm (ever heard of inflation, anyone?), but amazingly, legislation to raise the minimum wage has been passed only three times in the past 30 years. And even when those rare increases happen, the minimum wage steadily loses its purchasing power since it is not tied to inflation, leaving low-income workers struggling to make up the difference.
A lot has changed since American families last saw an increase in the federal minimum wage five years ago — from gas prices to college tuition — but one thing has stayed the same: workers still deserve a meaningful raise that will help lift families out of poverty and keep up when the cost of living rises. And this is an especially important issue for women, who make up about two-thirds of minimum wage workers.
In honor of the 5-year anniversary, we debunk 5 minimum wage myths —with the facts. Read more »
Today is July 24th – five years to the day since the federal minimum wage last went up. At $7.25 per hour, the current minimum wage typically leaves a full-time worker with just $77 per week to spend after accounting for housing costs and taxes. To shed light on what that kind of income really means for working families, advocates across the country, including NWLC, are promoting the “Live the Wage” challenge. From today through July 30, participants in the challenge will attempt to live on a minimum wage budget – just $77 to cover food, transportation, and other expenses for the entire week.
The Live the Wage challenge presents an important opportunity to grasp the daily struggles facing low-wage workers, and I hope huge numbers participate. But for me, I know taking the challenge means failure on the very first day. That’s because I’m a new mom, just recently back at work, and I have a staggering new expense in my weekly budget: child care. Read more »
Good news for minimum wage workers in Washington, D.C. and California—they just got a raise.
In D.C. the minimum wage increased to $9.50 per hour, up from $8.25. It is scheduled to hit $11.50 per hour in July 2016 and increase with inflation after that.
This increase is good news for women, who are about six in ten minimum wage workers in the District. And while $9.50 per hour isn’t nearly enough, a mom with two children who works full-time, year-round for the minimum wage now, finally, makes enough to be above the poverty line.
Unfortunately not all minimum wage workers in D.C. can celebrate today—the cash wage for tipped workers was not raised by in the legislation passed last January, meaning the cash wage for tipped workers in D.C.—about half of whom are women—remains a shockingly low $2.77 per hour. Read more »
As witness Heidi Shierholz, economist at the Economic Policy Institute, testified at a U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee hearing this week on “Empowerment in the Workplace,” “An empowered workforce is one that shares fairly in the fruits of its labor.” Unfortunately, government policies have led to trends of inequality over the past decades.
This is in part because policy has failed to respond to changing realities of the workforce, as Congressman John Delaney stressed in an opening statement. While workplaces are often structured around an outdated model of a two parent household with one breadwinner and one parent home to take care of family responsibilities, this model no longer works for families in the United States. Today, women comprise nearly fifty percent [PDF] of the workforce, and compared with 30 years ago, mothers of young children are almost twice as likely [PDF] to be employed. Additionally, men today report spending more time with their children. More than ever before, workers must balance work duties with meeting the basic needs of their families. Read more »
Don’t Google “state pride tattoos.” There are just too many results; it’s overwhelming. But as my “research” proved, competition among states can manifest itself in some really silly ways. Every once in a while, though, that my-state-is-better-than-yours attitude is well earned.
Take, for example, the number of states vying to establish the country’s highest statewide minimum wage. More than once this year, we’ve read headlines that one state or another has climbed to the top – and it just keeps happening. In March, Connecticut was self-high-fiving during its reign. Earlier this month, Vermont snatched the title. And as of this week, Massachusetts is moving into first place.
The Bay State’s bill, which will raise the minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2017, received final lawmaker approval yesterday, and Governor Deval Patrick is expected to sign the legislation soon. Tipped workers will also see an increase in their minimum cash wage, which will rise from $2.63 to $3.75. Read more »
I am here to make a confession: I’ve been leading you astray. I didn’t mean to, it was totally unintentional, and we (probably) haven’t even met. Still, my bad.
If you think of the average low-wage worker, you probably think of me. Young, working part-time to help pay for school and gas, plans to change jobs soon. Many people think low-wage jobs are held by teens and young adults who hope to earn a bit of extra pocket money on nights and weekends. And since the age of 15, that has been me. I have worked part-time for that very pocket money in order to subsidize my incredible coffee addiction, buy the newest pair of shoes, and pay for movies and entertainment.
However, the reality of the situation is that minimum wage jobs in America are disproportionally held by adults. Most work full-time. And many have children and families to support. Read more »
Let’s say your employer pays you just $2.13 an hour (the cash wage for many tipped workers around the country). Then you get an incredibly generous tip of $1,000 – that an anonymous customer wanted you to have (as only the luckiest servers in the country might get). And your employer won’t let you keep it.
I think that’s a pretty clear case of adding insult to injury. The math might look a little like this:
Insult ($2.13/hour) + Injury (taking away your once-in-a-lifetime $1,000 tip) = YOUR CASH WAGE IS STILL $2.13 AN HOUR.*
*Here’s the deal: Your employer is allowed to pay you a minimum cash wage of just $2.13 an hour. You’re still entitled to the full minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, counting your tips, but lots of tipped workers fall short because of wage theft and other illegal practices. Read more »
A friend of mine is bringing a group of middle schoolers to D.C. next month for a field trip about inequality and social justice. She asked if I knew of any good resources about the economic challenges women face. As it turns out, yes. Yes, I do.
From poverty and low-wage work to retirement savings, women face unique obstacles in providing for themselves and their families in the United States. Earlier this week, the Senate Budget Committee held a hearing on expanding economic opportunities for women and, with Senator Patty Murray leading the way, the conversation focused on the valuable contributions women have made to the economic security of their families and their country – and the need to remove barriers that still lie in the way. Read more »