The Soaring Minimum Wage

The Consumerist reports on the pathetic state of minimal living wage laws in the United States  The article, Minimum Wage Soars To $6.55, Working Poor Still Too Impoverished To Celebrate quotes the Associated Press article Federal minimum wage rises to $6.55 today.  From that article:

Last week, the Labor Department reported the fastest inflation since 1991 — 5 percent for June compared with a year earlier. Energy costs soared nearly 25 percent. The price of food rose more than 5 percent.

So the minimum wage hike is “a drop in the bucket compared to the increases in costs, declining labor market, and declining household wealth that consumers have experienced in the past year,” Lehman Brothers economist Zach Pandl said.

The new minimum is less than the inflation-adjusted 1997 level of $7.02, and far below the inflation-adjusted level of $10.06 from 40 years ago, according to a Labor Department inflation calculator.

Keep in mind that the increase to its previous level – $5.85/hour – was resisted by Republicans for a decade.  It wasn’t until a Democratic majority in Congress made the increase top their agenda that this was affected at all.  Of course, state federal minimum wage laws often exceed these paltry amounts.  But the United States is (or recently used to be) one of the richest nations in the world.  We’re clearly losing the middle class, and the poorer “working” class seems to be almost completely out of sight and out of mind.


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