We should remember that minimum wages for frozen for twelve years under Reagan and Bush I. They rose modestly in the first half of the Clinton administration and were then frozen again after 1997--meaning that minimum wages have been frozen for twenty-two of the last twenty-six years.
Low minimum wages have facilitated the export of industry from the industrial states to the relatively cheap labor anti-union shop states of the country and encouraged the flight of capital out of the U.S. to even cheaper labor.
Interestingly enough, real wages and real living standards showed modest but significant advances in the late 1990s when minimum wages were raised, not during the period under Reagan and Bush I, before of the period under Bush II after when they were frozen.
David Obey, a leading House Democrat, said after the vote today that minimum wages were "unconscionably frozen" for a decade. He might have added that they remain unconscionably low even with the increase. The increase should be seen as a modest beginning. American Labor still has a great deal of catching up to