Monday, June 26, 2006

Congress Divided Over Minimum Wage Increase

Over the past few weeks, House and Senate Democrats offered numerous amendments to increase the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour. Although Republicans voted down most attempts, Democrats successfully attached an amendment in committee to the Fiscal Year 2007 Labor Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill. After this victory, the Republican leadership pulled the bill from full consideration in the House until further notice. As a supporter of increasing the minimum wage, I would like to see this bill brought to the floor immediately for a fair up or down vote.

Here are some alarming facts about the minimum wage:

1) After adjusting for inflation, the federal minimum wage is at its lowest point in 50 years.

2) Congress has not raised the minimum wage in a decade, the longest time Congress has ever gone without raising the minumum wage.

3) A minimum wage employee working full-time all year will earn just $10,700.

4) Of the 6.6 million people who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage, 1.6 million are parents with children under the age of 18.

5) 86% of Americans support an increase in the minimum wage (Pew Research, 2005).