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Bar graph showing price increases in college tuition, milk, gas, and fuel oil since the last time the minimum wage rose.
Two congressional Democrats are introducing a minimum wage increase bolder than the one President Obama put forward in his State of the Union address. Where Obama called for the minimum wage to be raised to $9.00 from its current level of $7.25, then tied to inflation, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin and California Rep. George Miller want to see it raised to $10.10 before being tied to inflation. That's close to the 1968 minimum wage of around $10.50 (in 2012 dollars). The minimum wage for tipped workers, which has been frozen at $2.13 since 1991, would be raised to 70 percent of the full minimum wage. "I was very happy the president at least talked about" increasing the minimum wage, said Harkin. But:
"I think it's too low," Miller said of Obama's $9 proposal. "If you're going to index it at that level, you lock people into a sub-minimum wage. We've always struggled to have the minimum wage keep up with the times. You play catch-up, and we need to stop that. Establish it at what it should be—[roughly] 10 dollars an hour—and then index it, and get on with life so you don't keep falling behind."
Writing in Dissent, Colin Gordon and John Schmitt made a similar point, that "a built-in cost-of-living adjustment would likely displace or at least delay future legislated increases," making its initial level especially important. And make no mistake, the minimum wage is an important factor in the economy. The vast majority of the tens of millions of low-wage workers who would get a raise as a result of increasing the minimum are over 20 years of age, around half work full-time, more than half are women, and close to half are people of color. Many have families; 17 million children have a parent who would get a raise. Raising the minimum wage would pull working families out of poverty, it wouldn't increase unemployment, and with two-thirds of low-wage workers working at companies with more than 100 employees, we're not talking about something that targets small businesses.

President Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour was a start. Raising it to $10.10 would be better.

Tell Congress to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 and tie it to inflation.


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Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 09:18 AM PST.

Also republished by Invisible People, In Support of Labor and Unions, Daily Kos Economics, and Daily Kos.

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