Moving the Federal Minimum Up

New Orleans    The House of Representatives voted in favor of an increase on the minimum wage. The package they proposed when this way:

  • Step One: 60 days after passage = $5.85
  • Step Two: 14 months after passage = $6.55
  • Step Three: 26 months after passage = $7.25

    All of this looks good though only because it is something better than we have had after a 9 year drought without any increase which has hammered the buying power of the existing $5.15 per hour minimum. As we have noted before there is still no automatic cost of living increase, so the pain will still project in the future even when and if some kind of increase gets passed in 2007. The next step will be in the Senate, and then there will be conference committee and eventual signature by the President, so the final numbers are very much in doubt and the timeline may be summer at best, so as we often advise, don’t spend this thing yet!

    What is depressing on the federal level in reciting all of this re-enforces our strategy of having spent the time and money at the state level. There was a telling map in the Plain Dealer in Cleveland as I passed through last week which showed the existing minimum wages in the states that are higher than the federal number.

    Of the 30 jurisdictions (29 states and the District of Columbia) that have acted while Congress ignored lower wage working families, 29 of these jurisdictions will still be higher than the federal minimum wage after passage of this new minimum assuming the numbers stay at $5.85 per hour. Of the 30 states (inc. DC), only West Virginia is now at $5.85 for a minimum while all of the others are over that number with the next lowest being $6.15.

    Congress is not leading on this issue. For all of the sound and fury, it is even doing a bad job at following!

    This is all a good example of political press strategies and public policy cowardice. I hope they don’t spent too much time clapping each other on the back when this finally gets done after they conclusively will have proven that they have less political courage than state legislators and way, way less than the voters have demanded time and time again.

January 13, 2007

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