Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Minimum wage goes to Senate

By now you may know that the House passed a minimum wage bill and sent it to the Senate, so we thought a little discussion of the issue might be in order.

Over at dotCommonweal there is an interesting dialogue on Catholic social teaching and the minimum wage. You can read it here.

The New York Times had in informative article last week on two towns on either side of the Washington/Idaho state line and how the change in minimum wage resulted in . . . well, you can read it here.
Okay, here is a hint:
Nearly a decade ago, when voters in Washington approved a measure that would give the state's lowest-paid workers a raise nearly every year, many business leaders predicted that small towns on this side of the state line would suffer.

But instead of shriveling up, small-business owners in Washington say they have prospered far beyond their expectations. In fact, as a significant increase in the national minimum wage heads toward law, businesses here at the dividing line between two economies --— a real-life laboratory for the debate -- have found that raising prices to compensate for higher wages does not necessarily lead to losses in jobs and profits.

NETWORK, the Catholic social justice lobby, has more here:
NETWORK supports a "“clean"” minimum wage bill (one without offsets or other amendments) as a first step toward a living wage for all.

Passage of a "clean"” bill will be more difficult in the Senate, as members are likely to continue attempts to attach tax cuts to a minimum wage increase.

In 2006, for example, the Senate attempted to tie a reduction in the estate tax to a rise in the minimum wage. NETWORK opposed the repeal of the estate tax because it would (from 2012 -– 2021) transfer nearly one trillion dollars (accounting for interest payments on the debt) to the wealthiest 2% of Americans. This would result in less funding available to meet the needs of families living at the economic margins, and it would jeopardize adequate funding for healthcare, nutrition, education and child care programs.
. . .
The federal minimum wage is $5.15 per hour, as it has been since 1997 --– even as inflation has dropped buying power by twenty percent. A family of three with one member working full time at the minimum wage lives below the poverty threshold. Twenty-seven states have increased their state minimum wage, most having added a cost-of-living-increase. Yet, an increase in the federal minimum wage continues to be debated in the House and the Senate.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 would provide the first minimum wage increase in ten years. During this same period, Congressional salaries have grown by $28,500, and the average salary of CEOs of S&P 500 companies rose by over 400% to $14 million per year.

Finally, did you know the following?
CEO's at top companies will make more before lunch on January 2, 2007 than their minimum wage employees will earn all year.

It takes the average CEO, 2 hours and 2 minutes to earn $10,712. The CEO of Fortune 100 companies earn $10,712 in 1 hour and 16 minutes.

It takes the average minimum wage worker 52 forty-hour weeks (2,080 hours) to earn $10,712.

You may want to read more here.