Advocacy Groups Call For Minimum Wage Boost

KANSAS CITY  – The purchasing power for low-paid workers is 30 percent lower than a generation ago. Corporations are posting record profits. Advocacy groups think that combination calls for an increase in the minimum wage, the Kansas City Star reports.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, set through an incremental increase that began in 2007 after remaining constant for 10 years. Advocacy groups are planning a national day of action for Tuesday to call for a minimum wage increase and pressure companies like Wal-Mart and McDonald’s to raise the pay of their lowest-paid workers.

As the Star reports:

A report issued Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute concurs with the Law Project’s assessment that an increase is needed. Doug Hall, a director at the institute, a research organization that advocates for working people, said this is the right time to raise the minimum wage.

“Doing so in a weak economy not only helps those who most need help, it also provides an immediate boost to the economy, generating additional economic activity that benefits everyone,” Hall said.

But not everyone agrees:

Opponents say mandatory wage hikes cause job loss for the least-skilled employees — many of them young workers — because employers cut jobs in order to afford the increase for remaining employees.

“Our nation’s teen unemploment rate is still near 25 percent,” said Michael Saltsman, research fellow at the Employment Policies Institute, in a report this month. “Legislators should avoid policies that will further depress teen job prospects, depriving the country’s youth of the opportunity to gain important real-world experience.”

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