Rep. Gillibrand Votes to Raise the Minimum Wage
Later today Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand (NY20) will vote to raise the federal minimum wage by $2.10 over the next two years. The bill is expected to pass by a comfortable margin and enjoys bipartisan support. The current minimum wage has been frozen for over nine years.
"Since FDR, we have believed that hard work should be rewarded. Americans have earned this increase," said Rep. Gillibrand, a member of the influential Armed Services and Agriculture Committees. "While our nation's CEO's have been raking in record profits, the men and women who make this country run have been denied the rewards of their hard work and sacrifice."
The current federal minimum wage is $5.15 per hour. Increasing the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour would bring a pay raise for up to 13 million Americans.
Gillibrand added, "It is wrong to have millions of Americans working full-time and year-round and still living in poverty. At $5.15 an hour, a full-time minimum wage worker brings home $10,712 a year -nearly $6,000 below the poverty level for a family of three."
An increase in the minimum wage will make New York more competitive for retaining and recruiting businesses and industries. This will mitigate the effects of lower minimum wage laws in other portions of the Northeast.
Below are some additional facts regarding raising the minimum wage:
* Even though New York's minimum wage is currently $7.15, there are still 95,000 workers in New York who earn $5.15 or below. This equates to 2.3% of the total workers paid hourly wages. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2005]
* Fifty-nine percent of workers who would benefit from an increase to $7.25 by 2008 are women. This includes 760,000 single mothers. [EPI, 1/2007]
* Eighty percent of workers who would benefit are adults (20 years or older). [EPI, 1/2007]
* A minimum wage increase is particularly important at a time when America's families have seen their real income drop by almost $1,300 since 2000, while the costs of health insurance, gasoline, home heating, and attending college have increased by almost $5,000 annually. [Government Reform, 9/21/06]
* The minimum wage has not increased in more than nine years - the longest period in the history of the law. During that time, Members of Congress have received a $31,600 pay raise. The real value of the minimum wage has plummeted to its lowest level in 51 years. [EPI, 6/06]
* An average CEO earns more before lunchtime in one day than a minimum wage worker earns all year. [EPI, 6/06]