Recent Updates

  • America’s Poor Need a Job, Not a “Raise”

    Will raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour dramatically reduce poverty rates? Setting aside the policy’s negative impact on jobs, a dramatic minimum wage hike faces a far more fundamental problem: A majority of Americans in poverty don’t work and can’t … Continue reading

  • Meet The New Fast Food Crew Member

    The SEIU-backed Fight for $15 takes to the streets again today to demand $15 and a union. In a full-page ad in USA Today, we highlight one of the most predictable consequences for less-skilled employees – job loss from automation. McDonald’s has … Continue reading

  • Do Part-Time Employees Want “Fairness” or Flexibility?

    Unions and the advocacy groups they fund in the District of Colombia have a new grievance: part-time schedules. Legislation under consideration by the City Council – based on a similar ordinance passed in San Francisco last year –  would require employers … Continue reading

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About the Minimum Wage

The minimum wage is the minimum hourly wage an employer can pay an employee for work. Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour (part of the Fair Labor Standards Act) and some states and cities have raised their minimum wage even higher than that. California and Massachusetts currently have the highest state minimum wages in the country at $10 per hour, and Emeryville, CA, currently has the highest city minimum wage at $14.44 an hour.

Employees that earn the minimum wage tend to be young, and work in businesses that keep a few cents of each sales dollar after expenses. When the minimum wage goes up, these employers are forced to either pass costs on to consumers in the form of higher prices, or cut costs elsewhere–leading to less full-service and more customer self-service. As a result, fewer hours and jobs are available for less-skilled and less-experienced employees.

Minimum wage increases do not help reduce poverty. Award winning research looked at states that raised their minimum wage between 2003 and 2007 and found no evidence to suggest these higher minimum wages reduced poverty rates. While the few employees who earn a wage increase might benefit from a wage hike, those that lose their job are noticeably worse off.

Employees who start at the minimum wage aren’t stuck there. Research found that the majority of employees who start at the minimum wage, move to a higher wage in their first year on the job.