Feb 5, 2007
The Senate and House recently voted to increase the federal minimum wage from $5.15 per hour now to $7.25 in 2009 – in three steps spread out over more than two years. The increase has not yet become law. But leading Democrats are already hailing it. Senator Edward Kennedy said passage of the increase was a “step to help lift America’s working poor out of the ditches of poverty and onto the road toward economic prosperity.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Even if a minimum wage worker puts in 40 hours a week for all 52 weeks in a year, the increase will raise him or her and one other family member just up to the government’s official poverty line. And in reality it is virtually impossible for anyone to survive at this low level of income in most big cities, where rents, transportation and other necessities are sky high.
This increase in the federal minimum wage will not lift the working poor out of poverty, but guarantee that many workers and their families remain in poverty.