States say $5.15 an hour is not enough.
More states are raising their minimum wages, pushing hourly rates above $7 in some and shrinking the role of the federal minimum wage, which hasn’t gone up in eight years.
Eleven states have raised their rates since January 2004, and Wisconsin will become the 12th on Wednesday. Employers there must pay at least $5.70 an hour through June 2006, when the minimum wage rises again to $6.50 an hour.
In all, 17 states and the District of Columbia — covering 45% of the U.S. population — have set minimums above the federal rate of $5.15. That has helped cut the number of workers earning the minimum or less (for those earning tips) from 4.8 million in 1997 to 2 million last year, or 2.7% of hourly earners, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says.
About half of minimum-wage earners work at restaurants. Millions more have wages that are influenced by the minimum. Its buying power is at its lowest point since 1949.
We’re in a state of panic over 2.7% of the workforce, half of which receive minimum wage plus tips?