[by Joel W.]
Tomorrow, July 24, the federal minimum wage will go up to $6.55 as a result of a measure passed last year by the Democratic-controlled Congress. It will go up next year to $7.25.
But, as the Economic Policy Institute reported today, there are 23 states that mandate a minimum wage higher than the federal government. And even when the final increase in the federal mini-wage is put in place next July, the federal wage will still be behind 11 states and the District of Columbia.
While the minimum wage increase will ultimately mean about $100 more per week and an improvement for millions of workers, obviously no working family or individual can meet all of their basic needs on $6.55 per hour or even $7.25. (Recall that 75% of mini-wage earners are over 20, and millions are heads of households). The Democratic measure passed last year follows more than 12 years of Republicans blocking minimum wage increases.
It is pretty clear that the minimum wage will need to go up again very soon. Congress has to look at ways to implement a living wage law that will prioritize the needs of working families to meet their basic needs, which $7.25 just won't do.