News Release

Minimum Wage Hike

The federal minimum wage will increase 70 cents per hour Thursday to $6.55 per hour.

HOLLY SKLAR
Co-author of the report “A Just Minimum Wage: Good For Workers, Business and Our Future” and the book Raise The Floor: Wages and Policies That Work for All of Us Sklar said today: “The July 24 minimum wage raise is so little, so late that workers will still make less than they did in 1997 — the start of the longest period in history without a raise — and way less than 1968, adjusting for the increased cost of living. The new $6.55 minimum wage is lower than 1997’s minimum wage of $6.88 in 2008 dollars, and way lower than the $9.86 value of the minimum wage of 1968. That translates into $20,509 a year at the 1968 rate, compared with just $13,624 at $6.55 an hour. The minimum wage does not provide a minimally adequate living standard — and it still won’t when the last scheduled raise to $7.25 takes place next July. Workers are constantly choosing what to go without — ‘heat or eat,’ childcare or healthcare — while the richest 1 percent of Americans has increased their share of the nation’s income to a higher level than any year since 1928, the eve of the Great Depression. Minimum wage workers don’t put raises into predatory lending Ponzi schemes, commodity speculation or offshore tax havens. They recycle their needed raises back into local businesses and the economy through increased spending. Paying workers enough to live on should not be optional.”

JOHANNA CHAO KREILICK
Kreilick is program manager for economic justice for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and member of the board of the national Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign. She said today: “The July 24 raise in the minimum wage to $6.55 will help millions of workers deal with the rapidly rising price of gas, food and other basic items. But it’s nowhere near sufficient. The value of the minimum wage is lower now in real dollars than 40 years ago when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in Memphis while fighting for living wages for sanitation workers. Raising the minimum wage is a workers’ rights issue, a women’s issue, a children’s rights issue, and a racial justice issue. The Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign is calling for a minimum wage of $10 in 2010 as the least we can do to make up lost ground and bring the minimum wage closer to an adequate living standard. Let Justice Roll believes ‘A job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you in it.’ And we’re going to keep working to raise the minimum wage to a living wage in the states and at the federal level.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167