National Minimum Wage Increased

July 24, 2008

national minimum wage increaseThe national minimum wage increased today by 70 cents, from $5.85 per hour to $6.55 per hour. Another installment of the minimum wage increase will take effect the same time next year.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act will increase the national minimum wage by a total of $2.10 per hour. The first phase of the Act took place on July 24, 2007, taking the wage from $5.15 to $5.85 per hour. Today, the minimum wage will increase to $6.55 per hour. Next year, the national minimum wage will increase to $7.25 per hour.

“The increase in the minimum wage comes at an important time for the millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet,” said U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman for the Committee on Education and Labor. “Real incomes have dropped since 2001, while the costs of gasoline, health insurance, and attending college have skyrocketed. With Thursday’s increase, Americans who most urgently need a pay raise will get a badly needed boost.”

In 2006, the average full-time, minimum-wage worker earned $10,712 per year. The wage increase will provide an additional $4,400 for a family of three. The Committee states that nearly 13 million Americans will likely benefit from the increase: Almost 60 percent are women and 40 percent are persons of color.

Workers in 25 states will see an increase in the minimum wage. The rest of the states already have state minimum wage rates higher than the new federal rate. Those states are: AL, AR, GA, ID, IN, KS, LA, MD, MN, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NM, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI, and WY.

Whether to increase the national minimum wage has been debated for the past few years. A Newsweek poll showed that 89 percent of Americans supported a federal minimum wage increase. According to a report by the Committee, minimum wage has been frozen at $5.15 per hour for more than nine years, the longest period without an increase.


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