The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.

Monday, November 25, 2013

US Minimum Wage: A Time To Increase It!

Since its inception in 1938, the US Minimum Wage has maintained baseline hourly pay requirements for companies and corporations. Minimum wage laws were bundled with child labor laws, overt-time pay laws and maximum hours for a workweek. The later was in response to companies forcing employees (especially children)  to work many ours without consideration of additional pay above and beyond their standard wage. Of course, safety consideration probably weighed heavily in the maximum workweek ours guideline. 

While seeking information for this piece, we ran across an interesting chronology regarding the genesis of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. Child Labor may have been the catalyst to forcing US companies and corporations to exercise some degree of fairness regarding work hours, work environments and pay for hours worked.

United States Department of Labor: "Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938: Maximum Struggle for a Minimum Wage"
On Saturday, June 25, 1938, to avoid pocket vetoes 9 days after Congress had adjourned, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed 121 bills. Among these bills was a landmark law in the Nation's social and economic development -- Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA). Against a history of judicial opposition, the depression-born FLSA had survived, not unscathed, more than a year of Congressional altercation. In its final form, the act applied to industries whose combined employment represented only about one-fifth of the labor force. In these industries, it banned oppressive child labor and set the minimum hourly wage at 25 cents, and the maximum workweek at 44 hours.1
Forty years later, a distinguished news commentator asked incredulously: "My God! 25 cents an hour! Why all the fuss?" President Roosevelt expressed a similar sentiment in a "fireside chat" the night before the signing. He warned: "Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, ...tell you...that a wage of $11 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry."2 In light of the social legislation of 1978, Americans today may be astonished that a law with such moderate standards could have been thought so revolutionary.
The following infograph provides opportunity for a quick review of the US Minimum Wage both historically and from a perspective of demographic impact while illustrating state to state administration. The informative illustration serves as something an ideograph.

US Minimum Wage Statistics States with the Highest Minimum WageThe US Minimum Wage provides both relief (and hardship)  for women, almost twice that of men, and it benefits the 16 - 24 year age group far more than other age groups.  We used the word "hardship above based on the existential reality of living off wages that total less than $15,100 per years, if the employee works only one job. 

You will also notice southern states or states that historically tally for the GOP rank the top five of highest numbers of Minimum Wage workers. 

The Infographic offer a corollary to the highest population of minimum wage workers to the best minimum wage states.   The list looks awful (political) blue. 

The worst minimum wage states includes one historically blue state. 

We will leave further comment on the three infographic rankings to the reader. 

We ask the reader to consider historic opposition to raising the Minimum Wage has come from the GOP and economist who place numbers decision-making well ahead of the stark reality of working for very low wages. In fact, the subject group of women, and the age grouping 16 - 24, and minority employees, who earn at the level of Federal Minimum Wage are working near the poverty level for a single person and at the poverty level for a family of two. (linked)

Whenever discussion of raising the Minimum Wage manifest there is an ever-present major dichotomy on issues related to job losses. In February of 2013, The WonkBlog published a relevant piece written by Brad Plummer. We are certain conservative readers can find many pieces with a message contrary to Brad Plummer's message. We ask that they not bother to share with us; we do not care to read the information. 

President Obama is mindful of the critical need to raise the Minimum Wage. He first spoke his concern for increasing the baseline federal rate during his 2013 State Of The Union Speech.

'Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families. It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead.'
If you clicked on the link above, you noticed John Boehner did  not applause as the preceding words left President Obama's lips. 

On November 11th, Bloomberg provided a comprehensive review of Minimum Wage Rates as we move to 2014.
States Moving Beyond U.S. Minimum Wage as Congress StallsBy William Selway & Jim Efstathiou Jr. 
Click Image for Bloomberg Map
What is the impact of increasing the Minimum Wage to a level that matches what it would have been had the rate kept pace with inflation: over $10.00 per hour? Organizing for America published a meme that shows the extent to which people who earn at the minimum wage level would have their spending power increased.  Spending power, we posit will significantly increase spending on goods and services. It should be unnecessary, but we will state, "Increases in buying power leads to increased sales which in turn increases GDP." Some place in that equation resides "jobs."

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The kerfuffle from a CNN perspective: business vs people.

Ultimately, increasing the Minimum wage benefit all Americans. Some groups more so than other groups, but rest assured increased purchasing power means opportunity to improve the US economy.

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