The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Minimum Wage Raise


On Friday, the federal minimum wage is set to rise to $7.25 an hour, from $6.55.

Co-author of the report "Raise the Minimum Wage to $10 in 2010" and the book Raise The Floor: Wages and Policies That Work For All Of Us, Sklar said today: "The minimum wage is stuck in the 1950s. With the raise to $7.25, the minimum wage is still lower than the 1956 minimum wage of $7.93 in today's dollars. It would take $9.92 today to match the buying power of the minimum wage at its peak in 1968, the year Martin Luther King died fighting for living wages for sanitation workers -- and all workers.

"The long-term fall in worker buying power is one reason we are in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. In advocating passage of the federal minimum wage during the Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt called it 'an essential part of economic recovery.' And so it is today. The minimum wage sets the wage floor. We can't build a strong economy with poverty wages and rising greed. In 1968, the richest 1 percent of Americans had 11 percent of national income. By 2006, they had 23 percent -- the highest share since 1928, right before the Great Depression.

"It's obscene that underpaid workers and responsible businesses are bailing out banks and corporations run by reckless overpaid bosses who milked their companies and our country like cash cows -- and trashed the global economy. If the minimum wage had stayed above the nearly $10 value it had in 1968, it would have put upward pressure -- rather than downward pressure -- on the average worker wage. The Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign is calling for a minimum wage of $10 in 2010. It's time to break the cycle of too little, too late raises. A job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you in it." Sklar is senior policy adviser for the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign.

Nearly 1,000 business owners and executives including Costco CEO Jim Sinegal, U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce CEO Margot Dorfman and small business owners from all 50 states, have signed a statement supporting the current minimum wage increase.

Among the business people available for comment:

President of Associated Merchant Services in Nashville, Tennessee, Johnson said today: "There is no rational reason why our society should allow some people to earn enough to own five mansions while those who pick their fruit, do their laundry and pick up their garbage can't even afford a small house. Picking fruit and picking up garbage is hard work, and why shouldn't someone who is willing to do that be rewarded with enough income to enjoy a decent lifestyle?"

Ketring is president of VHS Cleaning Services in Ashland, Wisconsin. He said today: "I signed the Business for a Fair Minimum Wage statement in favor of the minimum wage increase. The employees of my company are the backbone of the business. When we raise the incomes of the lowest paid employees, the money is immediately spent and flows instantly into the economy. The increased income can also make for less turnover and more reliable workers as it reduces the stress that many minimum wage workers experience as they work extra jobs, juggle day care, work when sick or don't receive needed medical care -- causing further distress later."

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.