Minimum Wage - The Push To Raise The Federal Minimum Wage

Allison Glatfelter, Senior Analyst Monday November 3rd 2014

The President has made raising the minimum wage a priority, and done what he could through recent executive orders including one to raise the wages of federal contractors to $10.10.  The President is hoping to push public opinion behind a minimum wage increase by highlighting the issue through executive orders and statements.  The President originally proposed a minimum wage increase from $7.25 to $9.00 but was pressured by liberal Democrats pushed the increase to $10.10.  The CBO has issued to opinions about the impact of increasing the minimum wage to both $9.00 and $10.10.  The CBO estimates that both proposals will raise the wages of workers while at the same time eliminating some minimum wages. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that currently 1.6 million Americans make the $7.25 minimum wage. Currently there are more than a dozen bills to increase the minimum wage working their way through Congress.

While the House has said it is against any increase in the minimum wage the Senate has continued to work towards a compromise.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is steadfast in his support of the President Obama’s $10.10 wage increase, while a number of vulnerable Democrats and Republicans are looking for a compromise at a lower dollar amount. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) is the leader of the Senate compromise effort. The likely outcome in the push to increase minimum wage is that there will be a lot of debate with no real action.  Sen. Tom Harkin is the sponsor of S.2223 Minimum Wage Fairness Act is the lead bill increasing to $10.10 over a three year process.  The Senators working towards a compromise failed to introduce legislation before the mid term elections. 

Full Listing of Minimum Wage Legislation.

H.R.2659 Opportunities For Success Act Of 2013

S.1356 Workforce Investment Act Of 2013

H.R.3746 Fair Minimum Wage Act Of 2013

H.R.3939 Invest In United States Act Of 2014

S.2223 Minimum Wage Fairness Act

Minimum Wage Statistics:

In 2012, 75.3 million workers in the United States age 16 and over were paid at hourly rates, representing 59.0 percent of all wage and salary workers. 1 Among those paid by the hour, 1.6 million earned exactly the prevailing federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. About 2.0 million had wages below the federal minimum.2 Together, these 3.6 million workers with wages at or below the federal minimum made up 4.7 percent of all hourly paid workers. Tables 1 through 10 present data on a wide array of demographic and socioeconomic characteristics for hourly paid workers earning at or below the federal minimum wage. The following are some highlights from the 2012 data.