From the May-June 2014 issue of News & Letters:
Minimum wage is a starvation wage
Detroit—Adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage would be $18 an hour, not the existing $7.25. President Obama by executive order raised the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for working on future federal contracts, and now the Senate has approved increasing the national minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016. Although 65% of Americans are in favor of an increase, the likelihood of enactment of the measure is dim due to opposition in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
Wages have stagnated for several decades— the standard of living of Americans today is less than it was in 1972. The average wage of a worker today is $20.39, not the $38 an hour it would be if wages had kept up with inflation.
Historically, minimum wage increases have had positive effects on the economy. An estimated 27.8 million people would benefit from even the inadequate raise to $10.10. That would also reduce by 4.6 million the number of people living in poverty.
Most workers in minimum-wage jobs are not typically teenagers going into entry-level jobs, as opponents claim, but adults thrown out of work by the recession and non-recovery, with an average age of 35.
These proposed solutions, although they monopolize the media, only nibble around the edges of the failed economic system. They produce the inhumanity we face over discussions of things like minimum wage.