Economists and government officials endlessly speculate on the impact of raising the $7.25 federal minimum wage.
Most recently, a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said that raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour might cut employment by 500,000 workers. That is balanced by the projection that higher pay could also boost about 900,000 people out of poverty. But some places in the U.S. already have real-life experience with raising their minimum wage.
Washington state, for example, has the nation's highest rate, $9.32 an hour. Despite dire predictions that increases would cripple job growth and boost unemployment, this isn't what happened.
At 6.6 percent, the unemployment rate in December was a click below the U.S. average, 6.7 percent, and the state's job creation is sturdy, 16th in the nation, according to a report by Stateline, the news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts.
In Seattle, where metropolitan-area unemployment is 5.3 percent, that $9.32 sounds so yesterday. The mayor and City Council are practically in a race to see who can move faster and with more gusto to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Safe bet: They will make a move by summer. Seattle could then surpass San Francisco, another city that fancies its role as a laboratory. The City by the Bay's is the highest (not counting airport workers), at $10.74 an hour, and officials are discussing a new rate of about $15.
While Seattle and San Francisco are unrepresentative of the nation, they have helped pressure their states to raise their minimum wages. Fifteen years ago, Washington voters approved an initiative giving the lowest-paid workers a raise almost every year, with increases now tied to inflation. Those increases produced the highest U.S. rate, although California could lap that in 2016 when it hits $10 an hour. Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Democratic legislators have been pushing to raise the statewide amount to almost $11 or $12 an hour, but that now seems unlikely this year.
If anyone at all sees this page, would you please do this?
I found Congress'Transportation and Infrastructure Committee page. I implore you, go there, "like" the page and "review" it (click on one of the stars, rating one to five) and tell/ask/beg them to push for a jobs/infrastructure bill from this Congress. The American people and the nation's infrastructure, both, need the work and our economy needs the boost, the stimulus. Surely investing in our own nation is never a bad idea and we need it desperately, in at least a few different ways.
Thank you in advance.
If even one person responds and does this, it will have been a help.
In fact, as many as one in four Southern kids lives in poverty, compared to the national average of one in five.
In the map above, red shading indicates a poverty rates between 17.9 and 22.8 percent. Orange indicates 15.9 to 17.8 percent; light orange, 12.2-15.8 percent; pale yellow, 9 to 12.1 percent. As you can see, there's a lot of high-poverty red in the South.
Virtually no Southern states, with the exception of Florida, have a minimum wage higher than the federal floor of $7.25 an hour. Many Southern states do have relatively low living costs. But they are not dramatically lower than costs of living in other states, such as Ohio and Missouri, that have set minimum wages at least slightly higher than the national limit. The Southern states are doing the absolute minimum for their poorest citizens by keeping the minimum wage at the lowest levels possible.
And people living in the South are a lot less likely to move up the economic ladder.
If you want to achieve the American Dream, don't move to the South. That's because states in the South have extremely low levels of economic mobility. In the map above, pale yellow represents places with higher mobility, while red indicates low mobility.
Many living in poverty in the South are being denied access to affordable health care.
That's according to Gallup's recent "State of American Well-Being" report, which surveyed thousands of Americans and ranked states based on an average of six measures: "life evaluation," emotional health, physical health, healthy behaviors, work environment and basic access to things like food, water and shelter.
So frequently people announce that the news is "too negative" or they feel the world is just that. As a brief solution today? Some good news. This from economist/author/professor/political commentator Robert Reichand his Facebook page today:
Too often we forget how much social progress has been made in recent years, mainly because determined people have organized and mobilized for change. Some examples:
(1) Despite its rocky start, the Affordable Care Act in January alone redistributed $34 billion in healthcare subsidies to low and middle-income families. Total healthcare spending (the main driver of the national debt) is now growing at the slowest rate since the creation of Medicare in 1965.
(2) More solar power was installed in the United States last year than the previous 30 years combined, and the per unit cost of solar power is falling so rapidly it’s soon likely to drop below that of coal.
(3) Smoking (the leading preventable cause of death) is now barred in most workplaces, restaurants, office, and public facilities in the United States -- and the percent of Americans who smoke continues to decline.
(4) Gay marriage is now legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia -- and federal judges have ruled against bans in Utah, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Virginia, and Texas.
(5) The rate of childhood obesity has dropped 43% over the last decade, and sales of sugary soft drinks and cereals have plummeted.
(6) Two states have legalized marijuana, and 20 others now allow it sale for medical purposes.
(7) America has its first black president, and seems very likely to have its first female president within a few years. I can only add to this list that, God willing, the same political party that gave us our first black president in the White House is just about to give us the first female president of the nation, in our next big election. Or, barring that, Senator Bernie Sanders as our next President. Either way, it's a huge win for America and middle- and lower-class Americans.
Think happy thought, campers. Have a great weekend.
Proof positive, if we needed any further, of how, exactly, our legislators, their legislation and so, our laws and finally, our government is being bought and sold, day after day in our country. From The Nation:
Every time I visit Canada I'm reminded what Canadians -- who look and sound almost exactly like us Americans south of the border -- don't have what we do (guns, the National Rifle Association, huge piles of money corrupting their democracy, withering poverty, strident and vitriolic politics), and what they do have that we don't (single-payer health care, affordable public universities, civil discourse, conservatives that would be called moderate Democrats in the States). --Robert Reich
How many of you recall a time in America when the income of a single school teacher or baker or salesman was enough to buy a home, have two cars, and raise a family? That used to be the norm. For three decades after World War II, we created the largest middle class the world had ever seen. During those years the wages of the typical American worker doubled, just as the size of the American economy doubled. More than a third of all workers belonged to a trade union -- giving average workers the bargaining power necessary to get a large and growing share of the large and growing economic pie (now, fewer than 7 percent of private-sector workers are unionized). CEO pay then averaged about 40 times the pay of the typical worker (now it's over 300 times).
In those years the richest 1 percent took home 9 to 10 percent of total income (today the top 1 percent gets more than 20 percent). The tax rate on highest-income Americans never fell below 70 percent; under Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, it was 91 percent (today the top tax rate is 39.6 percent). Some of this money was used to build the largest infrastructure project in our history, the Interstate Highway system; some to build the world's largest and best system of free public education, and dramatically expand public higher education. We enacted the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act to extend prosperity and participation to African-Americans; Medicare and Medicaid to reduce poverty among America's seniors; and the Environmental Protection Act to help save our planet. And we made sure banking was boring.
Then came the great U-turn, and for the last thirty years we've been heading in the opposite direction. The collective erasure of the memory of that prior system of broad-based prosperity is the greatest propaganda victory conservatives and the privileged have ever achieved. But the fact we did it then means we can do so again -- not exactly the same way, of course, but in a new way fit for the twenty-first century and future generations of Americans. It is worth the fight. --Robert Reich
“People do not fully appreciate the degree to which big money, campaign contributions and lobbying and PACs and corporate media play in whether or not serious legislation is discussed and passed,” Sen. Bernie Sanders told Truthdigger.com. “Despite the fact that we have a collapsing middle class, more people living in poverty than at any time during our history, and the gap between the very, very rich and everyone else growing wider, it is very hard for me to imagine significant legislation being passed that Wall Street and the big money interests don’t want.” --Sen. Bernie Sanders, Indep., Vermont
Despite frigid temperatures in much of the US, January 2014 ranked as the fourth warmest since 1880, while many areas worldwide, including most of South America, Africa and Australia, had their warmest January in history. This NASA temperature rendering says it all. Yes, Virginia, that's why it's called "global warming" and not "Eastern USA warming."