Even Red States Recognize That the Minimum Wage Is Too Low
America’s federal minimum wage is $7.25 — not enough to pay rent in many states. The debate over whether to raise the minimum rages on, but voters in some states — and not just blue ones — are taking matters into their own hands.
(Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez made headlines last month for declaring America’s minimum wage an international embarrassment. He opined that policies including a higher minimum wage are part of the path to “shared prosperity.”
In order to compare and contrast the “value” of the minimum wages in different countries, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) looked at the ratios of minimum wages to median earnings of full-time employees. The higher the value, the lower the gap between minimum wage earnings and earnings of full-time employees in that country.
The OECD collected international data up through the year 2013. In 2013, the ratio of minimum wage to the median of full-time workers in the United States was 0.37. Compare this to France at 0.61, New Zealand at 0.60, and Israel at 0.58. Turkey has the best ratio, with a ratio of 0.69.
Another way to look at this: only two countries with median data available score worse than the United States: Mexico and the Czech Republic. On a worldwide scale, Mr. Perez seems to have a point: the United States is not a leader when it comes to taking care of our minimum wage workers. Instead, we are lagging behind.
Arkansas, Nebraska, Alaska, and South Dakota are four red states that voted to increase their state’s minimum wage on November 4. While none of these states have elected to raise the wage to $10.10 per hour (the rate President Obama has proposed,) Alaska voted for the greatest increase, an incremental rise to $9.75 by the year 2016.
If our conservative states are recognizing the need to pay people more to get money moving and changing hands, perhaps it’s time for the rest of our country to do so, as well.
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