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Minimum Wage

December 16, 2005 • Volume 15, Issue 44
Would raising the minimum reduce poverty?
By Peter Katel

Introduction

Demonstrators support a proposed amendment to raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to 7.25 an hour, at a rally in Washington, D.C., in March 2005. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) organized the rally.  (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now)
Demonstrators support a proposed amendment to raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to 7.25 an hour, at a rally in Washington, D.C., in March 2005. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) organized the rally. (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now)

The federal minimum wage — $5.15 an hour — has not changed since 1997. Since then, minimum-wage earners have lost 17 percent of their purchasing power to inflation. Supporters of increasing the rate say it would lift many Americans out of poverty, but business groups say an increase would hurt the working poor because it would cause companies to lay off low-wage workers. In any case, they say, many minimum-wage earners are middle-class teens earning pocket money, not poor adults. Attempts in Congress to raise the minimum wage failed this year, but perennial sponsor Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., says he will try again next year. Seventeen states and Washington, D.C., now have higher minimum wages than the federal level, and 130 cities and counties have so-called living-wage laws requiring public contractors to pay significantly higher wages. Nevada and Florida recently passed minimum-wage ballot initiatives, and more state battles are looming.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Cost of Living and Wages
Apr. 18, 2014  Wealth and Inequality
Jan. 24, 2014  Minimum Wage
Jun. 19, 2009  Rethinking Retirement
Mar. 06, 2009  Middle-Class Squeeze
Mar. 14, 2008  Gender Pay Gap
Dec. 16, 2005  Minimum Wage
Sep. 27, 2002  Living-Wage Movement
Apr. 17, 1998  Income Inequality
Oct. 27, 1978  Wage-Price Controls
Jun. 16, 1978  Military Pay and Benefits
Mar. 23, 1966  Rising Cost of Living
Oct. 25, 1961  Price-Wage Restraints in National Emergencies
Jun. 21, 1961  Wage Policy in Recovery
Jun. 11, 1958  Prices and Wages in the Recession
Sep. 18, 1957  Control of Living Costs
Nov. 02, 1955  Wages, Prices, Profits
Jan. 26, 1954  Minimum Wage Raise
Jan. 02, 1954  Cost of Living
Jan. 21, 1953  Guaranteed Annual Wage
Dec. 17, 1952  Future of Price and Wage Controls
Nov. 19, 1951  Fringe Benefits and Wage Stabilization
Dec. 06, 1950  Wage Control
Jun. 13, 1949  Wages in Deflation
Jun. 04, 1947  Guarantees of Wages and Employment
Oct. 29, 1946  Decontrol of Wages
Dec. 01, 1945  Minimum Wages
Sep. 29, 1945  Wage Policy
Oct. 27, 1944  Wage Security
May 17, 1943  Incentive Wage Payments
Aug. 25, 1941  Prices, Profits, and Wage Control
Apr. 28, 1941  Wartime Changes in the Cost of Living
Sep. 21, 1940  Two Years of the Wage-Hour Law
Nov. 01, 1938  Industry and Labor Under the Wage-Hour Act
Jan. 20, 1938  Wage Rates and Workers' Incomes
Apr. 11, 1935  The Cost of Living in the United States
Sep. 01, 1930  Wages and the Cost of Living
May 24, 1930  The Anthracite Wage Agreement
Feb. 20, 1925  Measure of Recovery in Profits and Wages Since 1920–21 Depression
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Wages
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