CBS News: It's been a record 11 years since the last increase in U.S. minimum wage

By Aimee Picchi
CBS News MoneyWatch, July 24, 2020

It's been 11 years since the last federal minimum wage hike, the longest span the baseline wage has gone without an increase since it began in 1938. 

Since the last federal minimum wage hike — to $7.25 an hour, starting July 24, 2009 — the cost of living has increased 20%, while the price of essentials such as housing and health care have increased even faster. ...

The push for a higher federal minimum wage may have been shoved to the backburner amid the widespread impact of the coronavirus pandemic ... But advocates for a higher minimum wage say it's time for a bump in the federal baseline wage, given the struggles that lower-income workers are facing in the crisis. 

"Even in these tough times, I wouldn't consider lowering wages, because my talented employees are at the heart of my business success and I can't afford to lose them," Michael O'Connor, the owner of barber shops in Philadelphia and Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and a member of the advocacy group Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, said in an emailed statement. "People can't spend money at local businesses like mine if they don't have it, which is why raising the minimum wage is all the more important now." ...

To be sure, it may seem counterintuitive to raise the minimum wage during an economic crisis, but Holly Sklar, the CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, pointed out that the minimum wage was "enacted to help our country recover from the Great Depression by lifting insufficient wages and boosting the consumer buying power that businesses depend on to survive and grow." ...

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Copyright 2020 CBS Interactive

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