Skip to main content

Value of the minimum wage, actual vs. hypothetical at various growth rates, 1968-2012. Minimum wage is currently $7.25, whereas if it had grown with average wages, it would be $10.46, with productivity it would be $18.72, and with the wages of the top 1% it would be $28.34.

A person working full-time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour makes just over $15,000 in a year. That's below the poverty line for a family of two, and it's not changing as long as Republicans control the House. But that doesn't mean that it's something to give up on, or that nothing can change for minimum wage workers. The past year saw a call to raise the minimum wage in the State of the Union address, only to have congressional Democrats push for a bigger raise than the president had proposed. And in November, President Obama got behind Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. George Miller's bill to raise the wage to $10.10. The real action, though, the action that has already concretely changed people's lives, is at the state or even local level.

  • New York's minimum wage will rise from the federal level of $7.25 to $8 on December 31, then increase to $8.75 at the end of 2014 and $9 at the end of 2015; the minimum wage for tipped workers will also increase. The state Assembly had passed an increase in 2012, only to have it blocked by Republicans in the state Senate.
  • Rhode Island raised its minimum wage from $7.75 to $8 starting January 1, 2014, which is more a level it should be raised from, but yet puts the state ahead of the federal minimum wage by 75 cents, so ... better than nothing.
  • Connecticut's state legislature passed and Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a law increasing the minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $8.70 on January 1, then to $9 on January 1, 2015.
  • California's minimum wage, currently at $8 an hour, will go up to $9 in mid-2014 and to $10 by 2016, thanks to a law passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
  • New Jersey voters passed a minimum wage increase to $8.25 an hour and then tie it to inflation—the same day they re-elected Gov. Chris Christie, who had previously vetoed a similar bill.
  • The city of SeaTac, Washington, voted to increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour. The particularly charming thing about that is that SeaTac the city includes SeaTac the airport, meaning a concentrated hub of low-wage jobs will be affected. However, the vote was close and a challenge is likely.
  • Washington, DC, and two adjoining Maryland counties are raising the wage to $11.50 an hour. The combination of DC and the two counties will mean an area with a minimum wage higher than any state for an area with a population larger than that of 15 states (and the District of Columbia, it should go without saying). There's also a prospect for more in Washington—I'm told a drive by DC Working Families and other groups to put an increase to $12.50 and a raise for tipped workers on the 2014 ballot will continue regardless.
  • Several states have already indexed their minimum wage to inflation, meaning that workers in those states will get a small raise at the beginning of the year. It may not help them get much ahead, but least—unlike workers on the federal minimum wage—they won't be falling further behind.

Those states, counties, and cities represent a big chunk of the American population, and a lot of workers getting a raise. Prospects are good for 2014, too. The Massachusetts state Senate has passed a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $11 and the tipped worker minimum to $5.50 by 2016, and if the state House and governor don't seal the deal, there's a ballot initiative effort already underway. Delaware appears ready to go up a dollar to $8.25. There's that ballot initiative in Washington, DC, and a push for an increase to $15 in Seattle. There are also plans for ballot initiatives in Idaho, Alaska and South Dakota.

But the best prospect of all would be Democrats getting control of Congress and increasing the minimum wage at the federal level.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 07:55 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  A SeaTac Update (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rickeagle, martini

    A Judge ruled on Thursday or Friday that the law doesn't apply to SeaTac Airport because it is controlled by the Port of Seattle (at least that's what I remember).

    So for now the airport workers won't be affected but I suspect the pressure on the airport employers will push the minimum wages up there over time.

    Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. Dalai Lama

    by TPain on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 08:09:40 AM PST

    •  HUH? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AlexDrew, martini
      The voter-approved law establishing a $15 minimum hourly wage for travel and hospitality workers in a Seattle suburb encompassing the region's main international airport does not apply to workers at the airport, a judge ruled on Friday.

      King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas ruled that the city of SeaTac does not have the authority to set workplace rules within Seattle-Tacoma International Airport because the aviation hub is owned by the Port of Seattle, a separate government entity.

      what pressure? SeaTac workers can make all the demands they want; the judge says SeaTac cannot grant them the desired $15.00 an hour. what would force the employers to grant this wage?

      http://www.reuters.com/...

      "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

      by Superpole on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 08:32:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Economic pressure. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rickeagle, martini, 2BOrNot2B

        If the minimum wage in surrounding areas is $15, it will become harder for the airport to hire staff.

        At least that what economists seem to suggest.

        But what do I know?

        Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. Dalai Lama

        by TPain on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 09:26:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So... Seattle -Tacoma Politicians (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AlexDrew

          have the authority to demand McD's, BK, KFC, etc., etc. franchisee owners must pay entry level workers $15.00 per hour?

          Nope.

          the accepted minimum wage in the area will not magically or automatically rise to $15.00 per hour.

          "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

          by Superpole on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 11:24:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  As progressives, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Superpole

            why can't we support common sense, sustainable policies? A $15hr starting wage (with raises I assume) for working at a fast food restaurant is insane.

            We are hurting the people we are claiming to help. Incremental and adjust is the way to do this. Have we learned nothing from Obamacare?

            •  You May Have Noticed.. Some (0+ / 0-)

              Progressives here live in a sort of fantasy land.

              it doesn't help that Ed Schultz makes inane, baseless demands on his show; "Well, harrumph! McD's corporations makes Billions per year, they can afford to pay their workers
              more!"

              WRONG. many McD's are owned/operated by franchisees, not the main corporation. the franchisee/owners decide what to pay to whom.

              "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

              by Superpole on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 06:42:43 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Doesn't apply to them. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            6412093

            Prop 1 specifically exempts restaurants, small businesses, and even hotels with less than 100 workers. It's supposed to apply to airport workers for the most part.

            •  Ooops. Correcting myself. (0+ / 0-)

              Prop 1 applies to hotels with more than 100 rooms and 30 workers.

            •  <sigh> How Many Times do I hafta post (0+ / 0-)

              the LINK?

              the judge's ruling specifically stated airport restaurant workers will NOT get $15.00 per hour.

              "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

              by Superpole on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 06:39:10 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I know that. (0+ / 0-)

                I was just trying to show what the law originally referred to. It never said that every stand-along McDonald's/KFC/Burger King had to pay its workers $15 an hour. It only referred to such establishments which were part of a larger center (read: the airport). With this court ruling, the entire purpose of the law has been gutted.

      •  The Port Commissioners are elected officials. (6+ / 0-)

        The commissioners have been arguing that they don't have the authority to set a minimum wage on Port facilities. Now that the Judge has ruled that they and only they have that authority they will be facing a lot of political pressure.  The commissioners have a long history of being responsive to their corporate tenants (Alaska Airlines...) and not to the public. Last November a more labor friendly commissioner was elected.  It will be interesting to see now how they respond as they are definitely going to be under a lot of pressure to institute a higher minimum wage.

        •  Of Course... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AlexDrew

          The minimum wage there locally could be raised (over a set time period, it's seldom all at once) to something like $11.50 an hour. MAYBE.

          Economically, in terms of how QSR businesses are run, there's no way anyone can reasonably demand $15.00 per hour.

          and $11.50 will not be enough to lift these workers out of poverty.

          "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

          by Superpole on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 11:29:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  What would force employers to pay? (0+ / 0-)

        When they can't get replacement workers for those who left for higher paying jobs outside of SeaTac.

        Of course, there is another way as well. Don't renew contracts for those companies that don't comply with the stated desire...

    •  What a revoltin' development this is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Livvy5, 6412093

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

      Several years ago, Alaska Airlines (the largest airline at the airport) led the race to the bottom by contracting out their baggage handling, effectively busting the bag handlers union, and turning family wage jobs into minimum wage.
      Since then, there have been several unionization drives among the bag handlers, fuelers, janitors, and other low wage workers at the airport.  One of the problems with trying to unionize such is diverse work force is of course, the diversity. They all work for different employers.
      Appeals to Alaska Airlines and the Port of Seattle to put pressure on the sub-contractors to raise wages have also failed.
      Finally, we got an initiative on the City of Sea-Tac ballot last November to raise the minimum wage in the city and at the airport to $15. The initiative eked out a slim victory in the election.
      Friday, a district judge ruled  that the city of Sea-Tac does not have authority to set wages at the airport. However, employers in the city will have to abide by the initiative and begin paying their workers a minimum of $15 starting January 1.

      For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

      by Grey Fedora on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 08:32:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This judge was a problem to start with. (0+ / 0-)

      She tried to block the organizers from placing this initiative on the ballot in the first place, and was overruled. Let's see how the appeal turns out to be.

  •  What a revolting development (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martini

    Several years ago, Alaska Airlines contracted out their bag handling, effectively busting their union. The baggage is now moved by a minimum wage, chiefly immigrant work force.
    When they discovered they can't survive on minimum wage; and after several unsuccessful unionization drives, they gathered signatures and placed a $15 minimum wage on the Sea-Tac City ballot. The initiative eked out a small margin of victory in last November's election.
    Starting January 1, 2014, all workers in the city of Sea-Tac and at the airport would have started earning at least $15 an hour.
    Yesterday, a district judge ruled that the city does not have authority to set wages at the airport.  the city does not have authority to set wages at the airport.  
    In a partial victory, the initiative does go into effect for employees not working at the airport. The case is being appealed, but the prospects do not look good.  

    For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

    by Grey Fedora on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 08:20:09 AM PST

  •  CONGRESS IS AN EPIC DISASTER (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dfarrah, Navy Vet Terp, cocinero, freesia

    consumer spending (70% of our economy) will take a serious hit with 1.3 million long term UNemployed Americans losing their unemployment benefits this weekend.

    just add that to the 15 Million or so other UNemployed people.

    apparently congress is dumb enough to think our consumer based economy will thrive/survive with millions of people having ZERO money to spend on stuff they need/want.

    ????

    "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 08:27:37 AM PST

  •  Illinois' governor is trying to push it in 2014. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martini

    Though Illinois minimum wage is already $8.25 which, this year, was the fourth highest in the country.

    http://www.usatoday.com/...

  •  Don't forget Oregon (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martini, 6412093

    Oregon's minimum wage is rising to $9.10 per hour effective January 1st.

  •  So where are the corresponding minimum wage bills (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bush Bites, martini

    ...from the Deep South?  Reward hard working employees, right?

    •  This is the problem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      2BOrNot2B

      Businesses are encouraged to seek the lowest common denominator.  Wouldn't mind new jobs opening in the South, if they were decent well paying jobs.

      "Corporations exist not for themselves, but for the people." Ida Tarbell 1908.

      by Navy Vet Terp on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 09:54:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The South represents 12 States (0+ / 0-)

      According the diary, there are 11-13 states (2 MD counties + DC) that already have increases or have ballot initiatives. That leaves at least 25 states outside the "deep south" that have the same stance.

      What is your point?

    •  That is my fear...will companies move south to (0+ / 0-)

      make sure they can continue paying as low as possible?    Hence the reason we need federal action.

      •  But Fed action can't account (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, Sparhawk

        for cost of living in cities like SF (where I live), NYC, DC and LA. The min wage will be almost $11 in SF on Jan. 1. That is at six or seven dollars shy of what it would take to live here.

        Could a business in Portland, Oregon or Maine afford to pay that? This is and should be a local issue. You are afraid of a race to the bottom? The south is/soon will be the car making capital of the US. The min wage is not a factor with them, it is labor flexibility.

        Different min wages for each city or region is not a bad thing. Give people a choice. Each community is different.

        In blue states and blue cities, we have to take control.

        •  Exactly. Local control. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AlexDrew

          A $11.50 minimum wage in the DC area makes sense, because the region has some of the country's highest living costs. At the national level, such an increase could kill off quite a few jobs in some areas. Not to mention that we're not getting an increase at the federal level anytime soon.

        •  Why not have (0+ / 0-)

          a federal law which establishes a minimum wage which is indexed to some regional measure of cost-of-living, computed (for example) at the congressional-district level?

          The legislation could ask the Bureau of Labor Statistics (or some other government entity) to recompute the minimum wage for each district on a yearly basis, based on the most recent data for cost-of-living.  As a bonus, this approach provides for automatic inflation-driven increases, as inflation shows up in the cost-of-living statistics.

          •  Like (0+ / 0-)

            There is much sense in this, we have the government employees and computational power to do this community by community. And it MUST be done in some way, because trickle down just doesn't cut it. I would love it if my working poor neighbors had more wherewithal to clothe their children, keep their housing presentable and safe, pay their bills on time, and got some little scrap joy in their life, be able to shop somewhere besides Walmart. My property values would go up. The gangs would disappear, because kids would be far more resistant to gangs because they had HOPE. Hello. The guy who owns the McD's franchise near me is Filthy Stinking Rich, I mean he drives his Porche to check in on the business because he doesn't want to drive his nice cars in this neighborhood. The only reason he pays minimum wage is because he has to...if he could pay his workers with a cheeseburger and a coke at the end of a shift, he would. Let's face reality here - many of the functioning sociopaths in society become very efficient business people, it gives them an outlet for their kind of crazy. THEY DON'T CARE. They literally can't care, and they will burn our world down just to see the pretty light it gives off if we don't rein them in a bit. Caring business people with a consciences need to give up their knee jerk conservatism, it just doesn't pay.

      •  Seems like minimum wage is more for.... (0+ / 0-)

        ....food service, retail, that sort of thing.

        You can't ship those jobs down south. They have to be near the customers.

  •  Any Labor Stats Nerds (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martini

    Any labor stats nerds want to explain a detail on that chart?

    Time and again I have seen the median real wage as around 15-16 dollars, but that chart lists the average at 10. That's a discrepancy of about 10 grand, annually. It doesn't make sense that the average would be lower than the median.

    •  These are all... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      martini, 2BOrNot2B

      ...what the "minimum wage" would have been at the same rate of growth as the rates of growth above. In today's dollars or value. (2012) The actual minimum in 1968 would be under $2 but in "today's" dollars it would be $9.25. In other words, the actual value of the minimum wage has "dropped" to $7.25 relative to 1968. Nice huh? And notice that if the "minimum wage" had kept pace with Real Ave Wages... or hell, our Productivity.... or how 'bout the pace of the top 1%... What it would be then, in today's dollars.

  •  Maryland should follow suit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martini

    When the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature convenes on January 8th.  Governor O'Malley will push it.

    "Corporations exist not for themselves, but for the people." Ida Tarbell 1908.

    by Navy Vet Terp on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 09:51:18 AM PST

  •  Add Minnesota (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero, bananapouch1

    A comment I posted back on December 13:

    Minnesota
    got an all-Democratic legislature in 2012 to go with a Democratic governor (Mark Dayton.) It was a busy legislative session (January to May) trying to undo both 8 years worth Tim Pawlenty's "governance" and two years (2011-2012) of GOP control of both houses of the MN legislature. (Dayton was able to block the worst of the lege's efforts to extend the Pawlenty "golden era". The voters in 2012 slapped down a) a "1 man, 1 woman" marriage amendment, b) an ALEC-style voter ID amendment c) the entire MN GOP by handing control of both houses of the lege to the Democrats while Dayton continues to 2014 in his first term as governor.)

    In the 2013 session a minimum wage bill was passed in both the House and the Senate. (Despite it's progressive reputation, the MN state minimum is only $6.15/hr., $5.25/hr. if the employer's gross revenue is under $625,000/ year---a defensible break for true small businesses.)
          The House wanted to raise it to $9.50/hr. by 2015 (likely in 2 steps) but the Senate only wanted to go as far as $7.75 (better than the federal level, but not a lot.) Both bills came up late in the session and there wasn't time to negotiate a final number between each chamber and get it passed before the end of the session.

    In 2014 the Legislature will NOT have to pass a 2-year state budget (that's the odd year chore.)  Typically the even-year chore is the bonding bill, how much to borrow for major capital improvements and infrastructure around the state. (The Democrats have control in both houses, but the bonding bill requires a 3/5 majority in each chamber, so the GOP will have a say in what and how much gets approved.)

    The Democrats are determined to bring in a minimum wage raise but this time they have the whole session to do it. Odds are good something will pass and Dayton will sign it.

    While in 2012 there was a sense the House number was "too high" my own guess is the atmosphere both nationally and locally has changed somewhat and that $9/hr. or better is somewhat more likely than it was.

    Shalom.

    "God has given wine to gladden the hearts of people." Psalm 104:15

    by WineRev on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 10:03:20 AM PST

    •  MN is an unique example. (0+ / 0-)

      In 2010, the state legislature went from D to R, but at the same time the governorship went from R to D in a very close three-way race. Naturally, both sides claimed a mandate and the next two years were ugly, until the Ds won decisively after 2012.

      If the GOP hadn't nominated Akins and Mourdocks, the Senate could have very well gone Republican on the same night Obama was reelected. Just imagine how many hostage crises would have occurred since then... Even after Republicans lost decisively, they stuck hard to their extortion tactics and tried to subvert government's basic functions.

  •  International Minimum Wage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093

    It's time to have an international minimum wage. The domestic minimum wage is far below a living wage, but what we really need are more wealth-producing jobs in this country. Unless we support wages here generally, the smattering of raises don't mean anything in the grand scheme of things.

    We should make it impossible for corporations to earn money through wage arbitrage. When they calculate where to put production, wages should be taken out of the equation. The way to do that is to insist that all trade agreements have an international minimum wage as part of the package.

    My suggestion is that we require the President to renegotiate all current trade deals to include this minimum wage within two years. At the end of two years, if no agreement has been reached, then the U.S. should unilaterally pull out of that trade agreement, and institute a tariff to balance out the low wages from those countries.

    I suggest we start with an IMW of at least $2.50/hour. It should go up by 2-3 percent per year in real terms (after inflation) each year until it reaches parity with our domestic minimum wage. This would apply to all labor going into that product, including that of suppliers. And, as part of the package, there should be standards for work week, child labor and all the other parts of our labor laws that guarantee a minimum.

    There is no reason for us to allow any product to be sold in this country unless it is made to our labor and environmental standards. We have a choice to either bring these other countries up to first-worlds standards or decline to third-world standards.

    Which would you prefer?

    •  International basic income garuntee? (0+ / 0-)

      I'm no expert, but perhaps for fairness there should be an international garunteed minimum income paired with an international minimum wage. Otherwise, it may look like a sneaky way for wealthy nations to horde jobs. If jobs don't go to those poorer countries due to lack of wage arbitrage, without a garunteed minimum income for their citizens they seem worse off to me.

      •  Hopefully, you and Liberal (0+ / 0-)

        thinking will start spending your time and energy on things more earth bound. Sigh.

        •  Makes no sense (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nextstep, HopefullyAnonymous

          I'm sure China and Bangladesh are going to be clamoring for an international minimum wage that's specifically tailored (per grandparent post) to put their workers out of work in favor of Americans (or automation).

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 03:25:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Makes some sense (0+ / 0-)

            Left Libertarian,
            You defend me perfectly on logical grounds. But I'll grant that international labor standards DO improve at times, in part because all parties are not such rational interest maximizers.
            And I think along those lines increases in international minimum wages are more likely than creation of international basic income garuntees.

            Still, I'm just conversing in good faith in an active environment with a lot of progressives. What kind of conversation is it for me to vet my every utterance for practicality before sharing it with the rest of you? We'd never have ended up with a black president or expanded access to health care if we took practicalism too far.

          •  China Is Onboard (0+ / 0-)

            Of course, China wants to have an international minimum wage. They are already losing business to cheaper areas. From their POV, the sooner they lock in their gains, the better. So, an IMW is in their national interest.

            For that matter, why should we make our foreign policy to favor China and Bangladesh? Do they get a vote in Congress?

        •  It All Starts With an Idea (0+ / 0-)

          So, are you onboard with this?

    •  Doesn't make much sense. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, Sparhawk, nextstep

      The cost of living is vastly different in various parts of the world. I hate to put it this way, but earning $2/hour is much better than prostitution or begging, which would often be the only alternatives present in many countries. Whenever new economies develop, workers first get $2 jobs as an alternative to life in poverty on farms, and then, gradually, people start earning more.

      And if anyone thinks that tariffs are helpful with anything, look up "Smoot-Hawley Tariff" and see how that ended up.

      •  I Don't See Your Point (0+ / 0-)

        First of all, free trade has failed. There isn't a single industry in the U.S. that's profited from free trade, unless you classify "the investment industry for the very rich" as its own industry.

        Second, I don't care what the cost of living is outside the U.S. I only care about the cost of living here. You can't support a minimum wage in the U.S. if you allow companies to go overseas for cheaper labor. It's no mystery why the minimum wage hasn't been raised here and why worker earnings here have been flat since we stumbled into free trade.

        Third, an IMW is not a tariff. However, all countries should have a uniform tariff on everything imported of about 10% just to encourage local production. If nothing else, that would be sensible just to limit shipping long distances. The average distance for food in the U.S. is about 1500 miles. That makes no sense if you're going to stop climate change. What's the point of manufacturing a shirt in China and shipping it to New York to sell? That's just a way to fill the air with extra carbon.

        So, we need to completely reverse the free trade boondoggle and get back to sensible economics. That would mean a sensible international minimum wage and uniform tariffs in the range of 10%. Until we make that the economic policy of the United States, we will continue to see declines in wages and budget deficits in Washington, which the Republicans will continue to use to bash social programs.

        •  This is not the cause of inequality (0+ / 0-)

          Inequality is caused by top-down economic policies which slashed taxes for the rich, shredded the social safety net, obliterated private-sector unions, and failed to raise the minimum wage (to name a few). It's not caused by free trade, immigration, technological change or a number of misleading arguments which get thrown around occasionally. Free trade helps everyone, allowing countries to specialize in areas they are the best in and export those products. In the long run, there is no serious reason to maintain inefficient industries - it only causes consumers to pay more for inferior products. Naturally, there is frustration resulting from skyrocketing inequality, but all too often, it is directed at the wrong areas. This reminds me of senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) who often speaks about stagnant wages for the middle class, increasing inequality but then proceeds to attack immigrants and free trade, and not his party's economic policies. What I don't understand about some people on Dailykos is how anti-immigrant sentiment is rightly so dismissed as bigotry, but its sister cousin, anti-trade sentiment, is treated seriously.

          Here's Paul Krugman, a liberal like no one else, explaining the reasoning of free trade: http://web.mit.edu/...

          •  Free Trade IS the Cause of Poverty (0+ / 0-)

            It's exactly the reason why unions have declined and why workers are paid less than they were. The decline in wages relative to productivity exactly maps the rise of free trade. It is the cause of income inequality.

            Free trade helps the very rich at the expense of the poor. If you are sufficiently wealthy you can make a lot of money going to China to invest. But if you are a worker you cannot increase your wages by going to China.

            The U.S. is sufficiently large that we don't need to have free trade to give us economic efficiencies. The primary reason for free trade is for people with a lot of money to make more money.

            What we need instead is managed trade. We need to manage it so that it isn't consistently damaging the economy. A sufficient international minimum wage and uniform tariffs would allow us to manage trade so that production would start to return to the U.S.

            Production is the cornerstone of wealth. Wealth is created through production. If you move production to other countries you impoverish this one. That's what we've seen over the last three-plus decades.

            Unemployment in the U.S. has averaged about 0.9% higher than it did before we started shipping manufacturing overseas. That's about 1 million people out of work just because of our poor trade policies. We package up hundreds of billions of dollars each year and ship them out, never to see them again. This imbalance cannot continue.

            The deficit we need to fix is the trade deficit. Our policy should be to do that. Until we do we will continue to see a wide income gap and higher-than-normal poverty.

            •  That's a misleading reason (0+ / 0-)

              Other countries have had even more trade agreements, yet they have stronger labor unions and higher wages. That's because the laws in these countries require employers to hold quick certification votes after a union is proposed, and allow for mandatory arbitration if workers and management cannot reach an agreement. As a consequence, unionization rates are much higher, and wages/benefits are far better as well. The same goes with minimum wages, social welfare etc. Inequality is NOT caused by trade, immigration or any similar factor.

              Here, btw is senator sessions (supporter of tax cuts for the wealthy) using trade/immigration as reasons for inequality: http://www.sessions.senate.gov/...

              http://www.sessions.senate.gov/...

              •  It's the Underlying Cause (0+ / 0-)

                It gives employers the option to move out of country when they face unions. It undermines the union movement and the minimum wage. We can't support wages here if U.S. workers are competing with workers making a fraction of their wages. It exerts continuous downward pressure on wages and undermines employment levels.

                You can't compare the effects on unions here with those in other countries because they all have lower wages (except Germany, where we essentially rigged the system in the workers' favor after World War II).

                This has nothing to do with immigration. It is purely about economics. Wages for non-supervisory workers (the kind that typifies working people) have declined since 1979, but worker productivity is up over 80%. Go to the BLS and look. This is the result of a constant assault on our trade regulations.

                We need to re-establish control over trade before it completely drains the economy. We have the power to re-impose sensible regulate because the U.S. is still the largest market. If we act now, we can reverse the process and fix the economy. If we don't, then you will be earning what people do in the poorest countries in the world.

                Unless you're already rich, of course.

    •  LT - who would enforce an international (0+ / 0-)

      minimum wage?

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 03:18:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Who Enforces the Rules Now? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        If you build it into the trade agreements, then the same enforcement mechanism in use now would enforce it.

        The proposal on the table is for Congress to give the President two years to negotiate this into our current trade agreements. If the other countries involved don't agree, we would pull out and institute a tariff sufficient to recover the wage differential. But they would, of course, agree, because the U.S. is the biggest market in the world. They cannot afford to be locked out of that market.

  •  I have a hard time cheering for some, like (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero

    Colorado...who went from $8.25 to $8.70.  I mean why even bother?? Certainly it is better than nothing, but now the politicians get to pat themselves on the back for "raising the minimum wage", when in reality it was nothing more than peanuts.

  •  Reagonomics started the inequality in 1980 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero

    Supply side policies and "trickle down" plus the policy of everything is fixable by lowering taxes on the rich started the US on an economic disaster for the lower 99% and a bonanza for the 1% ers.

  •  Colorado minimum wage up to $8.00 / hr. from $7.78 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero

    on January 1, 2014.

    We passed an increase by ballot initiative several years ago and it included an automatic increase for inflation.

    We should pass a further increase, IMO.

  •  Fight for $15 an hour minimum wage (0+ / 0-)

    Fifthteen an hour is a living wage in most parts of the country and is what people deserve.  McDonalds etc can't move away for cheaper wages.  Fastfood restaurants and their fellow low wage employers depend on the taxpayers to subsidize their wages with food stamps, medicaid, earned income credits so the workers can survive.  Yes, McDonalds makes billions every year off their employees hard work and could easily afford to pay $15.  Prices might go up a little, but actually such employers like Walmart would see their businesses grow as low income workers would spend any increase on necessities and where they could get employee discounts.  Any minimum wage would help but it is morally wrong for workers to have to live on the edge and in poverty to fatten some millionaires pockets.
    Any increase to $8 or $10 still leaves a fulltime worker in poverty and is no way enough.  

  •  You call these raises? More like slap in the face (0+ / 0-)

    I would not be proclaiming any victory in the
    minimum wage category. 25 cents? a dollar? Really?
    It is an insult and changes absolutely NOTHING in the lives of those subsisting on minimum wage.
    It is an insult!!
    Do not call this, in any way, positive news.

  •  Most not enough, some too much (0+ / 0-)

    I think the whole point of this debate is that the vast majority of Americans are not getting paid enough to get by. I just looked up how many of us live paycheck to paycheck and it's 76%. Overall this is frightening and for me personally really frightening considering the last time I looked this up about a year ago the figure was at 66%. On the other side of the coin we have a very small portion of our population who have an almost literally insane amount of money. I have nothing against someone who works there butt off and becomes wealthy. However, it looks as if the majority of the 1% may have acquired their wealth by dubious means. Inheritance at the very least. When most of the money of a society goes to a small portion of it's population it can only lead to disaster. History will back me up on this assertion.

    In the 1950's the power elite had a golden opportunity to seal things up in the U.S. for everyone. They could have stuck with earning 30 to 50 times what the average worker (heck, even 100 times and people maybe wouldn't have had a problem with that) took home. If they had to play the class game they could have pulled all the poor up into middle class status and created a "Comfortable" class to coexist along side their class. Those in the Comfortable Class wouldn't have cared about what the wealthy were doing as long as it didn't affect them. But, as we now see the wealthy just couldn't get enough. It appears they are just going for all out rule and control over a peasant class. To top it off they have to throw in racism, misogyny, homo phobia and the need for a constant state of war that their children will never participate in.  

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site