January 10, 2008

End the Minimum Wage Roller Coaster

Earlier this week the Senate Committee on Labor, Elections and Urban Affairs voted to approve Senate Bill 130, which would raise the minimum wage and would index it for inflation.  If passed this legislation would significantly improve the living conditions for some of our state’s most vulnerable families.  Although this is excellent legislation, it surely will face a right wing attack with all of the same talking points based on ideology more than actual facts, figures and reality. 

The most common right wing talking point is that raising the minimum wage will hurt employers and will cause a loss of jobs.  Although this has become a mantra for them, reality continues to disprove it.

Earlier this week the Senate Committee on Labor, Elections and Urban Affairs voted to approve Senate Bill 130, which would raise the minimum wage and would index it for inflation.  If passed this legislation would significantly improve the living conditions for some of our state’s most vulnerable families.  Although this is excellent legislation, it surely will face a right wing attack with all of the same talking points based on ideology more than actual facts, figures and reality. 

The most common right wing talking point is that raising the minimum wage will hurt employers and will cause a loss of jobs.  Although this has become a mantra for them, reality continues to disprove it.  Eating and drinking establishments are most impacted by raises in the minimum wage but even that sector grew at three times the rate of overall job growth after the last raise.  Hardly the end of an industry as suggested by some delirious opponents of the minimum wage.

In recent history, the minimum wage has been left unchanged for years at a time, leaving it to lose its purchasing power each year.  Simply put, the cost of goods and services goes up but the amount that minimum wage workers get stays the same.   Each year that this happens it is in effect an annual pay cut to the lowest paid workers in our state.  The indexing for inflation that is included in SB 130 would resolve that very serious problem for hard working people earning the minimum wage.  Indexing would also be good for employers as it would bring predictability and only gradual changes to their payroll, not the drastic and unpredictable roller coaster that we have traditionally seen. 

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