Recent Updates

  • The Fight For $15 Strikes Out

    In the aftermath of the 2016 elections, Bloomberg reported that the SEIU planned a significant 30 percent funding cut. The pricey Fight for $15 campaign–on which the union has spent $90-million+ thus far, with little in the way of direct union benefit to show for … Continue reading

  • Summer Rolls In and Minimum Wages Rise

    As the mercury rises in thermometers, minimum wage levels are rising, too. On July 1st, 17 states and localities increased their wage floors. (See table below.) Ten California cities and localities saw wage increases, with the general wage floor rising as high as … Continue reading

  • The Fight for 15 Fizzles in Seattle

    Last week, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray marked the 3rd anniversary of the city’s minimum wage hike, but a new University of Washington study shows there is little to celebrate for many of Seattle’s employers and employees. The report finds Seattle’s incoming $15 minimum wage … 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 and Massachusetts currently have the highest state minimum wages in the country at $11 per hour, and Emeryville, CA, currently has the highest city minimum wage at $15.20 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. 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.