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"Let’s declare," President Obama said in his State of the Union address, "that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour." And let's be clear, that wasn't a rhetorical flourish:

Graph showing the relationship of the minimum wage to the poverty line for families of two and three since 1964. Currently in 2013, full-time minimum wage work is below the poverty level for a family of two. Raising it to $9 would be projected to bringing it not quite to the poverty level for a family of three in 2015.
A minimum wage of $9.00 an hour still represents minimum-wage workers falling behind by many measures. Depending how you calculate it, if the minimum wage had kept pace with average wages, it might have been close to $10.50 today. If it had kept pace with productivity, it might have been more than $18.50. And if it had kept pace with the growth of wages to the top one percent? Forget about it—when union members in skilled professions make that much these days, they get attacked as greedy.

Contrary to what Republican opponents of raising the minimum wage—or having one at all, for that matter—will tell you, it won't cost jobs; multiple studies show that. And it's also not just a raise for teenagers who are working part-time for extra pizza money, as Republicans also like to claim. Just 15.9 percent of people who'd be affected by a minimum wage increase to $9.00 are under 20 years old, while 84.1 percent are 20 and older. As for working part-time, not so much:

16.9% of those who'd be affected by raising minimum wage to $9 work less than 20 hours per week, 35.8% work 20-34 hours per weeks, 47.3% work 35 or more hours per week.
It's time to stop keeping people working hard to support themselves and their families stuck below the poverty level. And, with the last increase to the minimum wage having come in 2009, it's important to tie the minimum wage to inflation so that workers don't have to wait years for their next raise. Tell Congress to pass President Obama's proposed increase to the minimum wage.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 02:29 PM PST.

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

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Comment Preferences

  •  Or ... (9+ / 0-)

    Pass a law that says no CEO may earn more than 50 times the average hourly wage of his/her employees and watch wages start to rise.

    •  Even if such a thing existed, CEOs (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, misslegalbeagle

      also make money through stock and stock options. There really is no way to stop the owners of a company, private or public, from finding ways to entice the best and brightest executives to work for them. I can't imagine that it is a good idea to pay the lowest level workers more at a company simply because they have a great CEO who is paid more. Some companies definitely overpay their CEOs, but trying to legislate this away doesn't seem to me that great an idea.

    •  I don't see how that would be legal, but it's (0+ / 0-)

      definitely a guideline that the Boards of Directors should pay attention to.

      “liberals are the people who think that cruelty is the worst thing that we do” --Richard Rorty Also, I moved from NYC, so my username is inaccurate.

      by jeff in nyc on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 06:53:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Which Is CEO Pay of $6.25 an Hour. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NoMoreLies, sethtriggs

      You have to remember that the 1950's lowest-paid-worker now equates to a 3rd world dollar a day or less employee doing the same work.

      That CEO profits from having sent that 1950's job to a land that pays below the cost of domestic slavery.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 06:53:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  When we increase the Min wage and require (0+ / 0-)

      employees health care in a way that companies can't game the system by hiring only part time then we will level the playing firld so a big company can not get an unfair advantage and the money will be put right back into the economy. Productivity will also go up as sick people will not have to work until they get so sick they go to the emergency room and can't pay for the expensive coverage. Republicans know if we do that they will lose elections right and left.

      Our money system is not what we have been led to believe. The creation of money has been "privatized," or taken over by private money lenders. Thomas Jefferson called them “bold and bankrupt adventurers just pretending to have money.” webofdebt

      by arealniceguy on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 09:17:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  To put working while poor into perspective. (19+ / 0-)

    to rent an apartment you must make three times the rent. So at $7.25 per hour that means housing can not exceed  $386.00 per month.

    Also if you are poor 41% of your personal income goes to daycare.(PDF)

    "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 02:43:54 PM PST

    •  In Atlanta $386 means "you're having roomies" (7+ / 0-)

      Or you have to move to rural Georgia.

      And that can suck.

      The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 02:51:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Top Commented (4+ / 0-)

      because that is a scary statistic that needs wider exposure.

      "But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die." - - Cherokee saying

      by brillig on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 06:06:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  yes and no. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      My calculation assuming 8 hours a day and average 22 day month is $425.  Calculating based on a 52 week year, it is $420.  Of course most people are not going to get 8 hours, so that leads to some variation.

      This is where regional variation come in, and why I think places like Washington state need to have a minimum wage of $10 while other places might be ok with $8.  Believe it or not it is perfectly possible to get a decent place in some cities for $700 a month. It is quite possible to get a three bedroom house for $1000, quite accesible to a two income minimin wage family.

      Also believe it or not, not everyone follows the rules you arbitrarily set for renting.  I have lived in places where all they wanted was first month, last month, and deposit.  I have lived in places where they want rent to be only 25% of income.

      Don't get me wrong.  I believe in a livable fair wage, which is about $11 or $12 an hour, adjusted for variations for cost of living.  That means that some places might be as low as $8, others maybe as high as $15.  

      And anyone who says rural living is cheaper has never lived in a rural area.  City living is cheaper.  No need for a reliable car, car for gas can be less than $100 a month, no tolls, the ability to walk to stores, stores where groceries are cheaper than rural areas.

      This is a common mistake, basing cost of living on housing only.  I know more than one person who has moved to the country only to discover it is not the fiscal paradise they thought.  The only way rural life is cheaper is if you live partially off the land and don't drive every day.  Rural people are probably going to be more hurt by making minimum wage.

      •  you are neglecting deductions. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        even minimum wage workers pay social security and other payroll taxes.

        •  Plus my link is census (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          not much they can to to minimize the suffering.

          Also I was a single parent on minimum wage with an infant. So please tell me about means and averages while you ignore neighborhoods where minimum wage is the norm.

          Tell me I have made a mistake in my assessment of an injustice related to poverty I've experienced. That's rich.

          "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

          by Horace Boothroyd III on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 07:22:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  no one said (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            that the minimum wage is not an injustice.  It says explicitly that a livable wage above $10 an hour should be the norm, and it should be adjusted to cost of living.  So places where rent for a decent place is $1000, the wage might be adjusted up to $15 or so.

            The fact is the injustice is that the minimum wage is set as a number and not as floating figure that changes with inflation and region.  The fact that someone in New York city makes 7.75 or less is an injustice.  

            And I will counter the being single by being raised by a single parent.  That reality does not change the analysis.

            And when one is calculating whatever percentage of income needed to rent an apartment or buy a car, I believe it is done on gross, not net.  At least when I have purchased cars or rented apartment that has been the case.  I understand net is what one has to spend, so that makes it hard to afford a car or apartment, but the discussion was what kind of apartment one could get based on income requirements.

            Sorry if anyone thought this was saying people did not be paid enough to live comfortably.  But I have always thought one advantage progressive has over conservatives was the ability to use facts to build a case for progressive causes, instead of just innuendo and misdirection.

  •  I calculate fulltime at roughly 2000 hrs a year (10+ / 0-)

    or so ~~ $9/hr is $18000 before tyranny taxes and $10.50 would be$21,000.

    In most cities, that wouldn't really support more than one person -  a family with 2 people working together might...

    I started with minimum wages @ $3.15 During the Bush years, when I was laid off and languishing with a pizza deliverance job, I was thrilled when $7.25 kicked in. Dickhead owner raised the prices and customers complained and tips decreased. Crazy customers tried to lecture me about it.

    With a professional license and decades of experience, currently I feel lucky to have a job making about what I made 12 years ago minus the heath insurance.

    Good times, eh?

    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 02:45:27 PM PST

  •  This is America, and many don't care as long as (4+ / 0-)

    It's called something different, AND we dont see it.

    •  Most Americans Haven't Had a Party to Vote For (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, FloridaSNMOM, worldlotus, 6412093

      on the overarching economics of the poor and the middle class, since LBJ's War on Poverty was begun to be dismantled.

      The party hasn't spoken for the poor since nearly back to that time, and it hasn't advanced the masses since Carter even when it's paid them rhetorical attention.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 03:15:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  100 dollar day. It's simple, it's clear, and it's (4+ / 0-)

    12 bucks an hour.

    A c-note for an honest days hard labor should be the minimum standard we're aiming for.

    I'd like to point out that plenty of working teenagers aren't just looking for "Pizza Money".  They're trying to feed their own kids, or their parents.

    income gains to the top 1% from 2009 to 2011 were 121% of all income increases. How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99% fell by 0.4%

    by JesseCW on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 03:13:31 PM PST

  •  your $10.50 if minimum had kept up with inflation (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Noddy, worldlotus, AaronInSanDiego

    is what it takes to keep a family of 4 right at poverty.

    What is maybe more fair is what would wages be if they had kept up with productivity?

    And remember, work comes with no insurance, no days off, no sick days, at will employees. We just had Presidents day, our jobsite is across the street from the Nature Conservancy. They don't work, we have to or we don't get paid.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 05:15:30 PM PST

  •  I appreciate the diary... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...but at the same time the current poverty line's income level is too low to represent anything like an acceptable minimum for this particular debate.

    And/or we need more low-income housing and public transit to make the current poverty level something tolerable.

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 06:21:47 PM PST

  •  I don't think 18k is enough for a single. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I definitely don't think it's enough for a family, though I don't think raising a family of 4 on one income should be the baseline for minimum wage.

    I see what you did there.

    by GoGoGoEverton on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 07:48:19 PM PST

  •  I live on the left coast (0+ / 0-)

    and rake in a $9/hour minimum wage. It's sweet.  My chauffeur drives me from work  to one of my houses in the West Hills. He has to slow down for the turn into the driveway so the gardening staff can get out of the way.

    Sometimes my cooks and maids park carelessly and block part of the driveway too.

    In the evening I read the WSJ to follow my investments and nibble on the lobster the chefs bought with my food stamps.

    In real life I got into a shouting match last weekend about minimum wage hikes with a golfing buddy. He was agin it, said it would cost jobs.

    When you earn it, you defend it.  I'm told I was a little vehement, said something about a general strike.

    Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

    by 6412093 on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 10:01:05 PM PST

  •  Alms for the poor, alms for the poor. (0+ / 0-)

    Very unfortunate that this proposed increase in and of itself would be acceptable at all.

    "The Global War OF Terror is a justification for U.S. Imperialism. It must be stopped."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 06:38:59 PM PST

  •  There's no mystery about this. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's what happens whenever Greed, Money, and Power combine.

    Trouble is, the Gordon Gekkos of the world are the ones on speed dial in DC, the ones who can get access whenever they want it, the ones who can pay people full time to work for their interests - and against the interests of everyone else.

    They've just gotten better about marketing their con game and turning it into a religion. We know the policies that get mainstreamed in DC are toxic, that they don't work. But they're the only ones that get past the gatekeepers who've purchased our government.

    When people can say with a straight face "the poor don't pay enough in taxes, and the rich pay too much" and nobody laughs them out of town, we're well into cloud cuckoo land.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 06:49:12 PM PST

  •  What has the community trust kept up with? (0+ / 0-)

    United Way solves the community's problems or does it? I was wondering tonight.

    Do contributions to United Way track labor wages or wealth?

    An honest heart being the first blessing, a knowing head is the second..Jefferson's Letter to Peter Carr

    by JugOPunch on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 06:50:38 PM PST

  •  it's always a hoot (3+ / 0-)

    to see a group of Sunday morning millionaires holding forth on "what needs to be done" to save the economy.  This crew has an almost limitless supply of opinions about wages and household incomes and absolutely NO idea what $20,000/yr really means.  It is a frantic, degrading, endless scrum to just pay your bills and do the right thing. At the supposed poverty level for a family of FOUR, it's a fucking joke.  For everyone playing along, that's $10/hr.

    the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity

    by mailman27 on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 07:01:20 PM PST

  •  only problem, $9 is not enough (0+ / 0-)

    $9 an hour still leaves many in poverty. If you are going to spend the effort do it right.

  •  Last I read (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The poverty level is $27,000 or so, that would equal $13 per hour, so if we want to solve poverty let's move to raise the wage to $13.  Only makes sense.  Being I am unemployed with no income for the past 12 months, I would take my old wage when I was a kid of $2 an hour.  But for now my life saving will have to do.  

  •  I worked though college (3+ / 0-)

    at a Panera. The 'regular workers' (as full time is something entirely different) boiled down into 2 main catogeries, those that had nothing else or better and college students. The first catogery outnumbered the second by more then 3:1

    And yeah 7.25 isn't a living wage, hell it's not even a 'make ends meet with some luck' wage.

    In a better world the min wage would be indexed to inflation and raised immedaitely to $11.00 at least but for now that will not happen.

    In the time that I have been given,
    I am what I am

    by duhban on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 07:05:03 PM PST

  •  I'm not convinced (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Where's the line for a single person? Oh, that's right, it isn't there.

    I think indexing the minimum wage to inflation is the best way to go about this instead of arbitrarily setting it every couple of years. And the federal minimum should be as low as possible so states and municipalities have more power to set it according to local markets. And I certainly don't think that every job should provide for an entire family.

    There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

    by slothlax on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 08:17:13 PM PST

  •  It costs LOTS of money just to be a Worker (0+ / 0-)

    And minimum wage ain't take-home pay... hardly!

    An 8 hour a day schedule = 10.5 hours to a Worker.

    And depending on where you live, prices vary. Lots.

    Rent. Utilities. Auto/Registration/Insurance/Fuel/ETC.
    Food. Clothing. Everything! ~ just to GET to work...

    Full Benefits & Living Wage = near "minimum" wage.


    But then, oops... there go the slaves.  

  •  Figure 1 is difficult to decipher (0+ / 0-)

    what is the bluish line?  Minimum wage over the years, adjusted for inflation?

    If so, why does it rise slowly and evenly over time?  That makes no sense - typically it goes up by a certain amount in a stepwise fashion. Not 0.4 cents  (or whatever) a day over a two year period as the graph shows.

  •  Here's where I think we're having a problem (0+ / 0-)

    This idea that a single wage-earner making minimum wage would be able to support a second person, or even children, on that money is pretty laughable. A couple trying to live on the wages of a single full-time minimum-wage earner probably shouldn't expect to live above the poverty line. The second person ought to consider having a job, so that together they'd be making close to $30K per year, well above the poverty line. Having kids on a single minimum-wage income shouldn't even be a consideration, and such foolish decisions probably ought to carry some kind of consequences.

    I'm certainly not a Republican, by any stretch, but I don't see us getting back to some kind of scenario in which two people and their children could be expected to live a middle-class lifestyle on the wages of a single entry-level worker. Every time I see one of these stories about a couple or a family with children trying to make it on minimum wage, I find that I don't have a great deal of sympathy. I know there are pockets of poverty where there aren't enough jobs for both people in a couple to have one, and that there are extenuating circumstances involving unfortunate circumstances; but if you and your wife are scraping by on $15K per year, for crying out loud, don't get pregnant.

    Atlas shrugged. Jesus wept.

    by trevzb on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 09:16:43 AM PST

    •  Logic <> young and in love (0+ / 0-)

      When I was 22 (back in 1985), I fell in love and got pregnant. I had a minimum wage job as a secretary/salesgirl, my husband was a non union warehouseman making a little above minimum wage.  We were both book smart but life dumb and neither one of were counseled on the realities of parenthood.  We reasoned to ourselves that babies didn't cost very much.   I think I read too much Dickens and Little House on The Prairie.  I found out I was pregnant and I was just thrilled.  You can't tell people when not to have babies when they are that young and that dumb and in love.  It will never work.  And then I promptly turned around a year and a half later and had another one!  That's really dumb, huh?  Childcare alone was 40% of my salary just so I could work.  If we as a country really cared about putting single mothers to work, we would give them a year off PAID, and then free or subsidized daycare so we could work.  I can't believe in 25 years this still hasn't happened.  

      "Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

      by dancerat on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 09:44:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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