May 29, 2007


Caption: Seamus McGoogle, defender of the toiling masses, claims exclusive credit for the minimum wage increase.

Lots of people all over the country worked hard for years to raise the minimum wage. While some of them weren't happy about the way it finally passed Congress last week (as part of the Iraq funding bill), that shouldn't overshadow the victory.

According to the Economic Policy Institute,

An estimated 13.0 million workers (10% of the workforce) would receive an increase in their hourly wage rate if the minimum wage were raised from $5.15 to $7.25 by 2009. Of these workers, 5.6 million workers (4% of the workforce) currently earn less than $7.25 and would be directly affected by an increase. The additional 7.4 million workers (6% of the workforce) earning slightly above the minimum would also be likely to benefit from an increase due to "spillover effects."

When fully in effect, the annual income of a minimum wage worker at 40 hours per will will go from around $10,700 to just over $15,000. Representative George Miller (D-California) told the Associated Press that that was enough to pay for 15 months of groceries for a family of three.

This means a lot in El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia. As the Charleston Gazette reported earlier this year,

If you work in West Virginia, you’re more likely to bring home minimum wage — or less — than in any other state except Oklahoma, which is tied for first.

Put it this way: If you work for an hourly wage in West Virginia, chances are better than 1 in 4 that your paycheck will get bigger if the federal government boosts the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, by one estimate.

Around 20,000 workers here will be immediately impacted as the increase is phased in but eventually 59,000 will see a raise.

But there's more:

And then there’s the “spillover effect.” Those are workers who make just above $7.25 an hour now. Research shows employers raise those wages to keep the pay structure intact, EPI says.

That means 133,000 West Virginians would feel the boost, EPI estimates. That’s more than 1 in 4 hourly West Virginia workers.

That's a pretty big deal. Congratulations to all who worked on this! So we still have a war to stop. It's always something...

SPEAKING OF WHICH, there were two items of note in the weekend NY Times. This one discusses rising disillusionment among US soldiers as they are stuck in the middle of a civil war. And this one points out that one consequence of this unnecessary war is the spread of terror from Iraq:

The Iraq war, which for years has drawn militants from around the world, is beginning to export fighters and the tactics they have honed in the insurgency to neighboring countries and beyond, according to American, European and Middle Eastern government officials and interviews with militant leaders in Lebanon, Jordan and London.


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