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Is 2014 the Year for Increasing the Minimum Wage?

Seventy percent of country supports increasing the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Credit: AP
Credit: AP
Written by Dan Fastenberg, AOL Jobs

It's not every day 70 percent of the country is in agreement on a hot-button political issue. And yet in a Quinnipiac University poll released in December, seven out of 10 Americans expressed support for raising the minimum wage, which now stands at $7.25 an hour at the federal level. Indeed, as the country marks the 50th anniversary of the "War on Poverty" this month, outlets including NPR have pointed out that after adjusting for inflation minimum wage workers earn less today than they did in the late 1960's. 

'Not realistic for people to live on'
"The minimum wage is so low it's not realistic for people to live on," said David Cooper, an economic analyst with the left-leaning Washington D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute, in an interview with AOL Jobs.

President Obama has expressed support for increasing the minimum wage. During last year's state of the union address he called for the figure to jump to $9 an hour, as AOL Jobs reported. He has since signaled support for the Congressional Democrats' proposal to lift the number to $10.10 an hour.

The current year is a midterm election year and "President Obama and the Democrats have said they will be making a big push -- it's clearly going to be a major issue during the election," said Jack Temple, a policy analyst for the progressive National Employment Law Project. "Given the support it has, Democrats can clearly run on it," he added in an interview with AOL Jobs.

But such a readiness comes after years of congressional inaction. In the vacuum, the issue has been taken up by people on the streets -- in the form of protests among fast-food workers -- and in state legislatures. (The last time the minimum wage was raised was back in 2009, when it was increased from $6.55 an hour.)

Taking it to the states
Last year saw five states and Washington D.C. approve increases in the minimum wages (California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island). And so as of Jan. 1, 2014, 21 states and Washington D.C. have a higher minimum wage on the books than the federal amount, as the National Council of State Legislature documents. (The highest state minimum wage is in Washington state, in which the figure now stands at $9.32 an hour.) And campaigns have already been launched in states from Alaska to Maryland to secure an increase this year for the state minimum wage. (For more, read about the five states likely to approve a minimum wage increase in 2014.)

Indeed, the wave appears to be extending beyond coastal states known for their left-leaning constituencies. In addition, several of the states mulling an increase of their minimum wage are scheduled to hold ballot votes, as opposed to being voted upon by the state legislature. And as Temple also told AOL Jobs, "no minimum wage ballot campaign has ever lost in the past 15 years. When voters have the opportunity to choose themselves, they tend to approve an increase with overwhelming majorities."

Aiming for a $15 minimum wage
Much of the momentum fueling the current drive to raise the minimum wage grew out of grassroots efforts like the fast-food campaign, according to the experts interviewed for this article. Activists and workers have publicly made the call at those protests for a $15 an hour minimum wage, which would represent a more than doubling of the current rate.

Such an ambitious agenda has proved productive, according to Temple. "The $15 figure has introduced clarity and it shows that even $10.10 is a modest proposal," he said. "If workers are saying they need $15 an hour to make ends meet that it puts even more pressure on Congress to stop dragging their feet on a modest raise to $10.10 an hour."

The $15 figure has even proven to be a realistic goal for localities throughout the country. Such an initiative in SeaTac, Wash., for instance, was approved by voters in Nov., as CNN Moneyreported. The plan took effect on Jan. 1 for the hospitality and transportation workers in the city whose economy is tied to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. (The measure has since been struck down for employees working inside the airport itself, as the building is located in the jurisdiction of another city, Port of Seattle.)

'Indexing' the minimum wage
In a generation, however, even $15 an hour might be deemed an insufficient figure for the minimum wage as prices fluctuate. And so in a bid to avoid having to constantly update the minimum wage to keep up with the swings of the market, 11 states and Washington D.C. have approved the method known as "indexing" their minimum wage. Through such a policy, the minimum wage is increased annually by the same percentage that the state Consumer Price Index (CPI) – the average price paid for goods and services – has gone up in-state.

"As a result these states don't have to deal with the problem anymore and consumers' purchasing power is protected," explained Cooper, of the EPI. "If there's a growing trend it's a recognition that as low-wage jobs make up a bigger share of the economy the government can't afford to allow the minimum wage to stay flat as cost of living goes up," added Temple, from NELP.

The role of the private sector
But beyond the federal and state government there is one last group that can increase the salaries of low-wage workers – the companies themselves. "If history is any guide it's clear collective bargaining and protesting works," Temple said, and mentioned the example of janitors who he noted used to make salaries close to what fast-food workers make. But in the 1990's the high-profile Justice for Janitors movement led to the securing of 27 new employment contracts, replete with health benefits, at commercial cleaning contractors in cities like Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles, as AOL Jobs has noted.

"If people see the hand that companies like Walmart and McDonald's play in creating low-wage jobs workers they become motivated," Temple explained. "And then pressure will be placed on the companies to do something." 
stanley seigler January 26, 2014 at 05:15 AM
@Jeremiah re: not buying that stuff about illegal immigrants raising wages for everyone else .......................................................................................... it's what an economist said...i do believe immigration (illegal or otherwise) is a plus... not sure about facts presented by economist/experts .......................................................................................... that you dont buy it doesn't make it inoperative, and your using adhomes (vice facts) doesn't improve yo position...read the article referenced: .......................................................................................... http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/17/magazine/do-illegal-immigrants-actually-hurt-the-us-economy.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1& .......................................................................................... [ANOTHER CLIP] He concluded that undocumented workers do not compete with skilled laborers — instead, they complement them. Economies, as Adam Smith argued in “Wealth of Nations,” work best when workers become specialized and divide up tasks among themselves. Pedro Chan’s [illegal] ability to take care of routine tasks on a work site allows carpenters and electricians to focus on what they do best. In states with more undocumented immigrants, Peri said, skilled workers made more money and worked more hours; the economy’s productivity grew. From 1990 to 2007, undocumented workers increased legal workers’ pay in complementary jobs by up to 10 percent. .......................................................................................... for some reason i tend to give a lil more credence (not much more tho) to a PhD economist than a PATCH blogger who seems to have bought a GOP bridge re immigration. .......................................................................................... OTOH perhaps when darrell provides his experts, i may change my mind and agree with you and him .......................................................................................... ohand what specifically is, ' completely against the laws of America as they were intended'?
steve forte January 26, 2014 at 08:14 AM
The only way I could get behind a single payer system was if it was single service for those who wanted it and not single payer. My proposal would be to treat all medicare/caid patiants at va hospitals. ( I can hear the hell no screams as I type) Then you cut out the fraud , estimated to be in excess of $50 billion a yr. Take that $50 billion a yr and build more hospitals. Then when all on care/caid are covered thru this program ya expand it so that anyone who wants to buy coverage can. Ya keep that coverage cheap and catostrafic only. Say for $80 a month for single and $135 or so family. Need stitches, hit a walk in medical center and throw em the $300. Need a physical , call your dr and throw him $125. Get cancer , have a heart attack and your covered thru your $80 a month payment. Those who don't want in stay in private ins , care as is now. Expanding a system that is already loaded with fraud is a criminals dream and a taxpayers nightmare.
Jeremiah January 26, 2014 at 09:20 AM
Joe Brennan - you obviously didn't read my comments on health care to the end. We agree on there being a plan behind the scenes - but I am not sure you see that the plan was to benefit the financial interests who basically own the government. In addition, my comments weren't discussing the ACA - they were discussing how much a single-payer system would save over the insurance based system and how in reality we have been placed into financial slavery from which we cannot escape without destroying the economy. **** Jeremiah
Jeremiah January 26, 2014 at 09:32 AM
Stanley - obviously you haven't become aware that many of these "experts" (such as the reports on unemployment and jobs) paint a rosy picture that just doesn't apply in real life. Economists say we are recovering in the economy too - but a recent poll says 74% of Americans haven't seen that recovery yet. So how can that be correct? There is obviously a disconnect between what the experts claim and what people are seeing and experiencing in real life. It is the same with this. You have accepted and are expounding a party line designed to promote people's acceptance of a group of people both sides need for votes. They are willing to put American citizens out of work to get those votes. I don't need an economist to tell me what is common sense. An illegal alien holding a job is one less job for an American citizen. And we have a shortage of jobs right now. 1+1=2. Old economics rather than new. **** I am not going to debate this any further - I already laid out my position and you have laid out yours and the thread is now going in another direction. **** Jeremiah
Jeremiah January 26, 2014 at 09:39 AM
Joe Brennan - you fall back on the " but everyone in Europe has socialized medicine and they aren't happy and it isn't as good a system as ours" party line and then go on to contradict yourself by describing how unhappy everyone is with ours. Which is it? You have not yet addressed how a for-profit insurance based tiered health care - which is what Obamacare as you call it is - benefits you over a true non-profit single-payer system. **** Jeremiah
Jeremiah January 26, 2014 at 09:41 AM
Just an aside - we are not only the only insurance based system in the world, we are also the most expensive health care system in the world, with quality of that care dependent on the amount a person can afford. **** Jeremiah
ChrisG January 26, 2014 at 11:01 AM
Regarding the minimum wage and heath care; why is the cost of living never addressed opposed to the government trying to mandate compulsory health insurance or a minimum wage? Why not do things to reduce the cost so the individual can afford to live and afford to purchase the health care they want? We all see the failed management of these government programs. We need the individual making their own choices not the government fitting squares in round holes.
Joe Bremen January 26, 2014 at 12:05 PM
Jeremiah; You missed my point on the EU I said we are as big population wise as all of the EU. The various system over there are controlled by well over a dozen different Governments with no 2 systems being the same. Yet many people expect this Single Government too control 320 million in a single system. The most expensive system in the world has more to do with the cost of living in the US then anything, and that makes it incomparable to all the EU put together. Not saying the system here is perfect and I never have. But it works. What is wrong needed to be corrected no doubt to get cost under control etc. But just replacing it with a behemoth was and is not the answer in my opinion. They never looked at cause and effect of this. They are causing more damage then anyone imagined before it was implemented. Even many who voted for it realize that now. They killed all the horses before having found a viable alternative of transportation hoping and praying this would get them from point A to point B. Even though no system this vast for this many people has ever been tried before. Nor did they address the problems that many countries have in their universal systems first. You obviously do that you do that so you do not repeat those problems. This ACA should be repealed in my opinion. Nor should any citizen be forced to have it. Repair the system we have over time with true solutions not pie in the sky hoping it will work. It is like shooting people to see how much damage a bullet causes on certain part of the body too me. Forget the minimum wage issue as that is negated by the ACA payments the low wage worker must now pay with a gun to their head. Also about all I have to say on this ;-}.
Darrell January 26, 2014 at 12:07 PM
We are going all over the place here and I'm losing interest. Even IF single-payer were more efficient, I can't believe anyone would think it would be fair to all or effective (unless you think it's fair that we all get third rate health care), or that we would actually get the quality of health care we have come to expect. Jeremiah, i read every word you wrote but I cannot disagree more. Stanley, I have learned from experience that if I took the time and effort to gather the evidence you seem to require, it wouldn't make one bit of difference with you. You're never going to change your mind. Logic alone should tell you it cannot be true that 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants, and even the high numbers of legal immigrants who mostly receive government assistance, is in any way economically beneficial to any our economy. I may continue to follow this thread, although it's giving me a headache, but I doubt I'll post anymore. There's no point.
Darrell January 26, 2014 at 12:13 PM
In rereading my last post, my reference to single-payer possibly being more efficient, what I meant to say was that it may be more simple. A cost/benefit table to determine whether or not you get treatment by someone halfway across the country who is never going to meet you ........ what is more simple or efficient than that?
Darrell January 26, 2014 at 12:24 PM
Imagine being a 65 year old American who has paid into the system his whole life and needs an organ transplant. But the cost/benefit analysis determines that the 25 year old illegal immigrant needs it too. You may live another twenty years if you get it, but he may live another sixty years. It won't matter what you have contributed in your life, or that the land of your birth is committed to you. And he may have four kids to consider. Sorry, Jeremiah. Take these pills to manage the pain.
Darrell January 26, 2014 at 12:34 PM
Immigration by the numbers. Stanley, I thought of this and it took me 30 seconds to find it, so I thought i would throw it in the mix. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPjzfGChGlE
Darrell January 26, 2014 at 12:37 PM
....... and more on immigration. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7-gGFfUkQQ
stanley seigler January 26, 2014 at 01:20 PM
i always smile when a person begins with ' OBVIOUSLY whatever and smile again when person ends with 'i'm not going to debate this further' ......................................................................................... what some call common sense is common bias...eg, is there a common sense explanation for: 1) unemployment was at 4.1 in 1999; 2) 7.9 in 2014; 3.) little or no change in immigration policy(illegal/other)+++did illegal's not take jobs then and now take jobs?? ......................................................................................... but perhaps to move on from illegal's effect on the economy to the recovery. ......................................................................................... re:economists say we are recovering in the economy too - but a recent poll says 74% of Americans haven't seen that recovery yet. So how can that be correct? ......................................................................................... guess i'm gullible, naive, whatever...but 74% haven't heard of the recovery is not a contradiction+++the economy is better now than 2008...and by definition that a recovery...eg, 'Economists use a variety of indicators, including GDP, inflation, financial markets and unemployment to analyze the state of the economy and determine whether a recovery is in progress.' ......................................................................................... (MoneyWatch) Although the U.S. economy is SLOWLY RECOVERING (USA is in a recovery) , millions of people who (74%) have tumbled into poverty since the 2008 financial crisis have yet to see their situations improve ......................................................................................... also as we know polls and experts have a lot in common...folks interpret (or ignore) them to suit their bias/prejudices.
Darrell January 26, 2014 at 01:37 PM
Stanley, your comments are bordering on condescension which is further evidence to me you are immovable on your positions. I suspect you are either highly emotionally vested in certain issues, or a party loyalist. I don't keep at my fingertips a folder with all the evidence to support my positions so that I'm ready for an online chat I might fall into, and I'm not willing to waste my time on someone who wants only to argue his illogical points of view when there is zero chance he is going to see it any other way.
stanley seigler January 26, 2014 at 02:19 PM
@ Joe Bremen:...mach nicht the pro/con arguments re BO-care...you are going to have to live in an america with universal health care...and if you are a young fellow you may live to accept it...just as those of your ilk accepted social security and medicare...basically GOP are on the wrong side of history
stanley seigler January 26, 2014 at 02:38 PM
re: gumball philosophy...i have trouble commenting on videos...need hard copies...but agree USA and other rich countries should help folks in their own and that this will to a large extent curb the immigration issue ......................................................................................... sad we didn't realize this, decades ago, and help mexico to become a more vibrant economy...mexico, USA, and canada could have been a real economic force in the world...actually lets throw in south and central america without borders.... ......................................................................................... however, gumball policies are irrelevant to the current illegal immigration issue...eg, what to do with the 11M here now. ......................................................................................... but educational and interesting, THANKS.
stanley seigler January 26, 2014 at 02:52 PM
darrell, for the record and believe mentioned...i am emotionally invested in and loyal to liberalism as defined here: ' Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas such as free and fair elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and private property ......................................................................................... RE: I [darrell] don't keep at my fingertips a folder with all the evidence to support my positions' +++neither do i, but so easy to google for facts to substantiate one's position/opine/conclusions... ......................................................................................... RE zero chance he is going to see it any other way+++ just present facts vice GOP party line talking points.
Darrell January 26, 2014 at 03:27 PM
For the record, I am a registered Independent. I don't listen to talk radio, even though there's a lot of it that is pretty good. I do listen to the first half hour of Brett Behr's show 3 or 4 times a week, and I often watch Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, and I watch Meet the Press just as often. I read the WSJ opinion page, Townhall.com, and National review online most days. I've never had a discussion with an avowed Liberal in which it didn't fairly quickly degenerate into their name-calling and/or condescension. So I usually don't bother with them and just let them think they won. Going to Google means combing through an awful lot, which I would be willing to do if it was going to matter. In this case, it wouldn't.
Joe Bremen January 26, 2014 at 06:52 PM
Well Stanley; Your type of post is why I said I would probably not discuss it further. Now I am ilk, GOP tool etc. Well I am a senior, I am independent as they come in my own opinion. I also know that logic says this system cannot survive as reported by the CBO. The cost and revenues do not match up will never match up. Just like SS, Medicare, Medicaid, and any other Government Program. That is stark reality of History. 320 million people is to large a population to make this work in my opinion. I have been to all these Countries with socialized medicine and have relative's that live in many of them. Some like it (mostly the young) none of the elderly like it. Funny thing is. People like you will say oh well that person who died because they could not get a test for months is just the small amount and rare case that happens. Well families who it happens to, do not think that. There is no doubt of rationing in those Countries. They clearly admit it. There is no doubt of lack of medical personnel in many of those Countries. These are very small populations compared the US. Many idea's have been floated here on minimum wage and healthcare. But many cannot see the forest for the tree's. When you develop the attitude that "just as those of your ilk accepted social security and Medicare" you are not talking about a free society anymore. That is remarkable you would say such a thing. Like Darrell I have found your type of rhetoric comes out whenever someone makes an opinion that others have said who are in media or politics. That does not mean I came to that conclusion because they said it. It means for me that I studied the problem and happen to come to the same conclusion. For the record as I stated previously. I belong to no political organization, no party, religious organization, or organized religion for that matter. I am American period. Native descent at that. The reason I did not want to debate it further is exactly what you are now posting to people. I knew it would come out with this hard attitude of superior knowledge that only you have. Darrel is right on that also. One wonders what you will say should things go terribly wrong and the system gets scraped, the minimum wage argument tears the country's economy into another recession etc. Sad thing is that people have forgotten about self-responsibly and that life is not always perfect. Depending on the Government enrich you or bail you out of problem is a fools paradise and is what created all this in the first place. Reasonable regulation and laws stimulate a society. What has happen is reason has left the building and an entrenchment of special interest, corruption and just plain politics with people lives has replaced it. Rather than solve that, you would appear to want it bigger and more intrusive. Sorry but that is not what most people believe I think. It will always be a matter of time before the so called silent majority rises. To use and old adage "We the people must control the Government lest the Government control us"
Joe Bremen January 26, 2014 at 06:53 PM
Please patch fix the paragraph glitch.
DianeKH January 26, 2014 at 06:58 PM
Darrell-Give up! And I do not mean anything negative by that. I am a conservative(fiscally)/independent(look at each individual issue)/libertarian(no more laws). I get very interested when other people want to find more ways to spend my money or tell me how to live.. On other issues I'm pretty moderate-if you're not hurting anyone else, I'm probably going to be OK with it. Liberals, and I mean the truly progressive ones, are some of the meanest people I have ever met. They preach free speech and equal rights, among other things, but only if you agree with their agenda. They do not deal in facts, but rather in emotion. And we can all Google our hearts out-does anyone really believe everything they read on the Internet. I do watch a lot of news and from all sources. It's interesting and sometimes very amusing to flip channels and see how each of them present the same story.
stanley seigler January 26, 2014 at 07:47 PM
RE: Please patch fix the paragraph glitch.....................PLEASE!
Joe Bremen January 26, 2014 at 08:09 PM
I agree Diane; Extreme truly progressive ones seem to think if one person has an opinion then all have the same opinion and are dealt with as a group mentality and they cannot think for themselves. Nor do seem to understand that people like yourself and I must say me, vote on individual issues. Just because I support a liberal idea or a conservative idea, does not make me a groupie of either party. It makes me a free independent thinker. I so tire of this class warfare, race baiting, division, tribal mentality, multi-cultural etc. Those thing more than anything will probably lead us to ruin. What ever happened to I am an "American". There is no such thing as European American, African American, Asian etc. You may be of the decent, but if you are a citizen of the US, you are an American period. Perhaps that should start being taught in our schools. But again I digress ;-}.
Joe Bremen January 26, 2014 at 08:13 PM
Jeremiah; I am sorry but I did miss some of your post. This has gotten way to long to look back. The paragraph problem is driving me nuts. (eye sight not what it use to be). Maybe another thread on just healthcare should be done, though I really think it would turn rabid as it seem to happen everywhere. In the end I will have to agree to disagree on some of your points. But thanks for a respectable debate. Have a good night.
stanley seigler January 26, 2014 at 08:35 PM
@JB, hello fellow senior...well i am a bleeding heart redneck...it's illogical to say our progressive free market system cannot survive...it survived GOP policies (thanks to FDR/DEMs) that caused 1929 and is now recovering from GOP policies that caused 2008 (thanks to BO/DEMs) +++ that's stark history. ......................................................................................... you may have anecdotal experience with socialized healthcare countries...your experience does not agree with WHO who ranks USA number ONE in health care cost...and 37th in quality...most of the countries ranked above 37 have socialized healthcare... ......................................................................................... RE: hard attitude of superior knowledge ....the only information i have is from google...you should try it for any substantiating data you have to confirm your opines/conclusions...eg, the CBO report that say: the system cannot survive... ......................................................................................... not sure of the CBO report to which you refer (can you pls ID)...but one relating to immigration (recently discussed here) say: CBO estimates that the bill [senate immigration bill) would reduce deficits by a total of $158 billion over 2014-2023.
stanley seigler January 26, 2014 at 08:38 PM
BTW is any contributor to buckhead PATCH.from buckhead?
DianeKH January 26, 2014 at 09:25 PM
Someone mistakenly posted to the Buckhead Patch and now every time someone responds to someone else via their email, it goes here. Respond through the Royal Oak Patch website to get it back on track.
T as in Truth January 27, 2014 at 05:02 AM
Stan - u should check your view settings. It seems like your comments contain a **** load of periods.
stanley seigler January 27, 2014 at 08:58 AM
RE periods...PATCH could eliminate the periods if they would format the comment section to recognize paragraphs... ......................................................................................... apologies if periods annoy ...they are an attempt to recognizes paragraphs ......................................................................................... anyone, any suggestions? would '+++' be better??? ......................................................................................... BTW not sure if 'T' is 'bustin my whatever'...but i have no idea what view settings are or how to check them...

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