News Release

An Impoverished Minimum Wage?


Congress is deliberating on the minimum wage. The following analysts are available for interviews:

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: “Childcare workers and security guards struggle to care for their own children. Healthcare aides can’t afford to take sick days. Yet Congress is giving itself another raise — to $168,500 on Jan. 1 — while the minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 an hour, just $10,712 a year, since 1997. A job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you in it.”
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Co-editor of the two-volume Poverty in the United States: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, and Policy, Mink said today: “The minimum wage is supposed to guarantee an income floor to keep full-time wage-earners out of poverty. But today, the federal minimum wage guarantees abject poverty for workers … nearly $6,000 per year below the federal poverty line for a family of three.

“Disproportionately, women make up the ranks of minimum wage workers — often women with children. Ten years after the so-called welfare reform, mothers are being forced into full-time jobs that do not pay wages that allow them to make ends meet. The wage gap for mothers is growing, and economic insecurity for mothers and children gets worse. Indeed, the persistent insecurity enforced by sub-poverty wages — combined with harsh welfare rules and the lack of child care and health provision — makes families fragile and puts mothers’ custody of children at risk.”
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An economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Boushey said today: “The federal minimum wage is at its lowest point in 50 years. Congress has not raised the minimum wage in a decade. As of December 2006, this will be the longest time Congress has ever gone without raising the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage is only the first step in helping families to make ends meet. The substantial share of minimum wage workers are adults making significant contributions to the total family income. In the early 2000s, fewer than one-in-five minimum wage workers was under the age of 20 and half were between the ages of 25 and 54.” See minimum wage graph at CEPR.

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