As of January 1, the minimum wage in 13 states will rise, bringing the total number of states with wages above the $7.25 federal requirement to 21.
However, as many celebrate this as a victory and a sure-fire strategy for Democratic legislators in upcoming elections, progressive voices maintain that a minimum wage of $8 or $9 an hour is still not enough.
A USA Today headline published Monday reports:
Most of the hikes apply to workers who earn tips in addition to an hourly wage, which is often much less than the minimum wage in that state.
Coinciding with the state-level push, President Obama, backed by congressional Democrats, is supporting legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2015.
Though many credit the rise of the Fast Food Workers strikes—during which workers walked off the job in over a hundred cities throughout 2013—with bringing national awareness to the growing demand for a living wage, the low-wage labor movement’s call for the minimum wage to be raised to $15 dollars an hour has not received much due respect.
As Independent labor reporter Allison Kilkenny tweeted Monday:
According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, in Connecticut, for example, where as of Thursday the minimum wage will be set at $8.70 an hour, the minimum calculated amount for one adult to support his or herself is $10.68 an hour.
“The estimates do not reflect a middle class standard of living,” the MIT researchers write. “In such cases, the calculator is likely to underestimate costs such as housing and child care.”
In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll published earlier this month, 63 percent of respondents said they supported a minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour and 43 percent said they would back a $12.50 an hour wage.
“Because the national discussion out of Washington, D.C., has been in the $9 to $10 range, the result is not surprising,” said David Rolf, president of Service Employees International Union local 775 chapter of the poll. “I think you would have seen similar results had you polled in 2007 on marriage equality or marijuana.”
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Ahead of the Jan. 1 wage changes, media outlets are reporting that many Democratic legislators are co-opting this growing populist movement into watered-down legislation to be leveraged as a “strategy” to be employed in upcoming elections.
The New York Times reports that to counter the botched roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, Democrats “see the minimum-wage increase as a way to shift the political conversation back to their preferred terms.” The Times continues:
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