Recent Updates

  • $15 Minimum Wage Too Radical, Even for Democrats

    New data shows that a $15 minimum wage was considered too radical for Congressional candidates on the campaign trail. The Progressive Change Institute (PCI), a liberal organization, compiled a dataset of left-of-center policy positions taken by the soon-to-be freshmen legislators. … Continue reading

  • Minimum Wage Hikes Still Creating Winners and Losers

    Instead of alleviating poverty, Seattle’s minimum wage experiment is creating a system of winners and losers. A new study from economists with the University of Washington show that Seattle’s recent minimum wage mandate is marginalizing workers still looking to establish … Continue reading

  • VIDEO: Bernie And Bezos on Amazon’s $15 Wage Folly

    Amazon’s recent decision to raise its starting pay rate to $15 an hour–responsive, in part, to pressure from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders–generated controversy from an unlikely group of protesters: The company’s employees. “Why Some Amazon Workers Are Fuming About Their … Continue reading

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About the Minimum Wage

The minimum wage is the minimum hourly wage an employer can pay an employee for work. Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour (part of the Fair Labor Standards Act) and some states and cities have raised their minimum wage even higher than that. Washington currently has the highest state minimum wages in the country at $11.50 per hour, and Emeryville, CA, currently has the highest city minimum wage at $15.69 an hour.

Employees that earn the minimum wage tend to be young, and work in businesses that keep a few cents of each sales dollar after expenses. When the minimum wage goes up, these employers are forced to either pass costs on to consumers in the form of higher prices, or cut costs elsewhere–leading to less full-service and more customer self-service. As a result, fewer hours and jobs are available for less-skilled and less-experienced employees.

Minimum wage increases do not help reduce poverty. Award winning research looked at states that raised their minimum wage between 2003 and 2007 and found no evidence to suggest these higher minimum wages reduced poverty rates. A new study from economists at the University of California, Irvine and the National Bureau of Economic Research find that over the past 30 years, increases in the minimum wage have not reduced poverty rates in disadvantaged neighborhoods. While the few employees who earn a wage increase might benefit from a wage hike, those that lose their job are noticeably worse off.

Employees who start at the minimum wage aren’t stuck there. Research found that the majority of employees who start at the minimum wage, move to a higher wage in their first year on the job.