Friday, July 24, 2009

Federal Minimum Wage increases to $7.25/hour

The federal minimum wage will increase today, raising wages of the lowest paid workers from $6.55/hour to $7.25/hour and providing a real boost to working families and the economy. Workers who benefit from the increase will spend it in their local communities on much needed items like milk, diapers and clothes for their children.

Marilynn Winn is a temp worker in Atlanta earning $6.75/hour at an auto auction. “Increasing the minimum wage will help me and everyone in my community,” she says. “I help my 77 year old mother and 18 year old grandson when I can. Sometimes my mother calls asking for help to buy food and I have to say, 'I can’t this week.'”

Such basic needs might not sound like the elements of an economic recovery package. But according to the Economic Policy Institute, this $24 per week increase for full-time minimum wage workers will generate $5.5 billion in consumer spending over the next year - providing a helping hand to the sagging economy. Though Congress could not foresee our current economic troubles when a series of three wage increases were enacted in 2007, this minimum wage increase could not come at a better time – for low-wage, working families and for the country as a whole.

When President Franklin Roosevelt first proposed the first federal minimum wage law in 1937, he noted that "The increase in national purchasing power (is) an underlying necessity of the day.”

Thirty-one states will be affected by the minimum wage increase, including Georgia and Wisconsin where 9to5 has worked in coalition with business, labor, faith, nonprofit and civil rights organizations to ensure that working families receive what Roosevelt called a “fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.” Other states where 9to5 has launched campaigns, including Colorado and California, have a minimum wage above $7.25.

Recent economic studies document that states where the minimum wage was raised had better employment and small business growth than states that did not. A letter signed by 650 leading economists, in support of raising the minimum wage, noted “most of the beneficiaries are adults, most are female and the vast majority (come from) low-income working families.” Disputing claims that these increases threaten job growth, they state, “The increase… would not have the adverse effects that critics have claimed.”

While the federal minimum wage increase will go into effect at a time when working families are struggling mightily to make ends meet, the American worker, particularly low-wage workers, need and deserve more: guaranteed paid sick days, more affordable child care for working parents and time off to be involved in their children’s school activities.

As we celebrate this minimum wage increase and all that it promises, let’s continue to move toward family-friendly workplace legislation so that the workplace works for all of us.

- Statement of Cindia Cameron
Organizing Director, 9to5 National Association of Working Women
Co-Chair, Georgia Minimum Wage Coalition

ALSO: Check out Michael Kanell's article about the minimum wage hike in today's AJC... two 9to5 members were quoted!

No comments: