What America is Saying … About the Minimum Wage




Click here for the Center’s Economic Analysis of the Florida Minimum Wage Proposal

The federal minimum wage level, unchanged since 1997, has not kept up with increasing costs for necessities such as housing, food, utilities, child care, transportation, and medical care. In real (inflation-adjusted) dollars, the minimum wage has fallen nearly 40 percent since 1968. From California to Wisconsin, initiatives at the state level proposing statewide increases in the minimum wage are gaining support. Here is a sampling of what America is saying about the minimum wage.

Lexington, Ky. – The Lexington Herald Leader
September 28, 2004 – Reader’s Views

"An increase in the federal minimum wage is long overdue. It has fallen further and further behind the cost of living, and the impact of the last increase has been entirely eroded by inflation."

"The last increase in the minimum wage was eight years ago, but that doesn’t keep the cost of living from increasing. Americans will never see the cost of living stand still for eight years…"

"Today, workers, many of them women, struggle to get by on minimum wage. That’s just wrong. We can do better."

New York, N.Y. – Columbia Spectator
September 14, 2004 – Editorial

"From within the Ivory Tower, it is easy for many not to notice how short $5.15 an hour falls in covering the most basic necessities in New York. But for many of our neighbors in the Upper West Side, this is a daily reality…"

"An increase in the minimum wage would not, as Pataki claimed, irreparably mar job creation. We understand the interplay between the minimum wage and unemployment. The way we see it, although some may temporarily lose their jobs, many more will be helped by the wage hike, which will increase productivity and morale while reducing absenteeism. In the long run, everyone will benefit from the resulting stronger economy."

San Francisco, Calif. San Fransisco Chronicle
September 26, 2004 – Letters to the Editor

"The argument that raising the minimum wage would send business out of the state is specious, since minimum-wage jobs cannot be exported – not even to Arizona or Nevada – or ‘off-shored,’ since they can only be performed locally…"

"These are jobs in the service occupations, such as food service, health care, elder care, child care, day labor, agricultural labor and retail stores. Raising these wages would only help the California economy by helping low-paid workers to become more self-supporting, and lessen their drain on the social welfare system and taxpayers."

Albany, N.Y. – The Times Union
August 7, 2004 – Editorial

"I, and many other business owners, are tired of being used as the scapegoat by politicians who serve their big business constituents by denying some very basic truths about the minimum wage."

"The lowest allowable wage is not usually paid by truly small businesses. It is paid by huge corporations that already benefit from economic development scams, tax discounts, subsidized payroll and other state-provided, tax-based benefit programs…"

"Increasing the minimum wage is not just about altruism and social justice. It is also good business."

Rapids, Wis. – The Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune
September 29, 2004 – Opinion

"Anyone who can characterize $6.50 an hour as an extreme position on the minimum wage doesn’t live in today’s world. In Wood County, a single mother raising one infant would need to make $10.43 an hour to pay all her bills and properly care for her child, according to a study by the Wisconsin Women’s Network. If she had two children, she would need to make $14.56 an hour to pay the average daily living expenses for a three-person family in the county…"

"When more people are able to better support themselves and to spend more in their communities, that’s the rising tide Wisconsin needs right now. What we don’t need is more political ugliness."

Los Angeles, Calif. – Los Angeles Times
September 22, 2004 – Letters to the Editor

"Schwarzenegger’s veto of the minimum wage bill was a cowardly cave-in to the business interests that financed his recall campaign…

"The bill would have increased the minimum wage by 50 cents on July 1, 2005, and another 50 cents a year later. About 1.4 million Californians now earn the lowest hourly wage on the West Coast, 60% of them trying to support their families on $6.75 an hour."




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