Last week the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations announced that Missouri workers making minimum wage will see a small increase in their paychecks in 2014 as the state’s rate increases by 15 cents to $7.50 an hour on Jan. 1, 2014.
Any raise is helpful, but working men and women need more. In the past year, Local 655, other labor union members and concerned social service organizations have protested, written letters to congressmen and spoken out on the importance of providing Americans with a living wage, not a minimum, poverty level wage.
We must keep up the fight. Even with the Missouri increase, a minimum-wage worker will earn only $15,653 a year. That places a minimum wage worker supporting a family of four well below the 2013 federal poverty line of $23,550 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
With the raise, these full-time minimum wage workers — 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year — will see their yearly income increase by a mere $312. Congress is currently considering a new law, The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, that will help restore a decent living to America’s lowest-paid workers. The legislation proposes a federal minimum wage rate of $10.10 per hour and would tie future minimum wage increases to the Consumer Price Index.
Forget what you hear from those who say a minimum wage increase would ruin businesses and halt hiring. Some of the nation’s top economists reviewed 20 years of research on the impact of minimum wage increases on employment and concluded that there would be little or no effect of minimum wage increases on job growth.
The study also finds that other reasons commonly cited by minimum wage opponents is wrong. Evidence shows that a $10.10 minimum wage would help businesses by increasing demand, lowering turnover and boosting prices. It would give the economy a big boost thanks to more money in people’s pockets to spend on purchases.
Look around and you see that low-wage occupations are dominating job growth in this post-recession recovery. Large employers know that if you desperately need a job, you’ll work for pennies. Employers are trying to pay less and require more.
If the federal minimum wage had kept up inflation since its 1968 peak, minimum wage would now be about $10.58. Had it kept up with productivity and inflation, it would be worth $21.72 per hour. Stand with us, speak out and contact your congressman supporting the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 introduced by Democrats in March.
Find your representative at www.house.gov or call (202) 224-3121. Raising it to $10.10 an hour would lift nearly 6 million people out of poverty.