Monday, November 14, 2016

The Working Poor Will Continue To Get Even Poorer

The graphic above is from the Economic Policy Institute. Here's what they have to say about it:

There are 21 states that use the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Workers in these states comprise 39.2 percent of total nonfarm employment; the other 60.8 percent of the workforce is in states with minimum wages above the federal $7.25. The first set of bars shows that, accounting for the higher minimum wages currently in effect in 29 states and D.C., the average prevailing state minimum wage across the United States is $8.25. This means that minimum wage workers in the 21 states at $7.25 are being paid 12 percent less than the average U.S. minimum wage worker. Similarly, the average minimum wage among just those states that are above $7.25 is $8.90— meaning that minimum wage workers in the $7.25 states are being paid, on average, 18.5 percent less than their counterparts in states that have adopted minimum wages above $7.25.
The second set of bars shows that this gap is likely to widen dramatically if the 21 low-minimum wage states do not act, or if the federal minimum wage remains unchanged. This is because of increases already scheduled by current legislation and because some states increase their minimum wage each year to keep up with inflation. By November of 2020, the average minimum wage faced by workers across the United States will be $9.30 and the average in states above $7.25 will be $10.63. Without any change in either the federal or their state minimum wages, minimum-wage workers in the 21 states at $7.25 will be paid 22 percent less than the national average and 31.7 percent less than workers in states with higher minimum wages.
Note: These estimates under state the true gap because they do not account for city and county minimum wages, which are almost exclusively higher than state minimum wages and exist solely in states with minimum wages above the federal $7.25.
Republicans  would like for you to think that the poor people in this country are poor because they are lazy. That is not even remotely true. Most of the poor work hard at the best job they are able to find. The problem they have is that the job they have does not pay a livable wage. In far too many states, the minimum wage is still only $7.25 an hour (or $15,080 a year). No one can support a family on that. In fact, it doesn't even provide a decent living for a single person.
Democrats would agree that the best thing would be for the working poor to work their way out of poverty. But that can't happen unless jobs are available for them to take, and those jobs pay a livable wage. Neither of those things is likely to happen under our new Republican government. The Republican Congress has refused to raise the minimum wage at all (and many of them would like to abolish the minimum wage), and Trump has said that wages are too high. In short, the poor will just grow even poorer in the next few years (as inflation chips away at their minimum wage, or near minimum wage, job).
The crazy part is that this is not what the public wants. Poll after poll has shown that an overwhelming majority of Americans think the minimum wage should be raised to at least $10.10 an hour -- and an August poll from the Pew Research Center showed that 52% think the minimum wage should be raised all the way up to $15 an hour.
But the results of the 2016 election has killed any hope of raising the minimum wage to a livable wage.

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