Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives today in support of increasing the minimum wage. Presently, 29 states and the District of Columbia guarantee a minimum wage higher than the $7.25 per hour minimum required by the federal government.
New York increased the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $8 per hour beginning Dec. 31, 2013, then to $8.75 Dec. 31, 2014. It is on track to raise it to $9 Dec. 31, 2015. Federal minimum wage supersedes state minimum wage laws where the federal minimum wage is greater than the state.
"Mr. speaker, 29 states - including my home state of New York - and the District of Columbia guarantee a minimum wage higher than that required by federal law. These states recognize that $7.25 an hour is not enough to support an individual or a family of four's basic needs. No American who works full time should have to live in poverty.
"Because the minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation, today it holds less buying power than it did in 1981. This is unacceptable. Raising the minimum wage will not only increase earnings for millions, but it will also increase consumer demand by bolstering the purchasing power of low-income Americans.
"Eighty-eight percent of those who would benefit from a federal minimum wage increase are 20 years old or older, and 55 percent are women. While New York is on track to increase its minimum wage to $9 by 2016, state-by-state increases are not enough. Sixteen states remain at or below the federal level, and disparities between the states create economic uncertainty.
"The time to raise the federal minimum wage is now."
In the 113th Congress, Higgins was a cosponsor of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013. A study by the Economic Policy Institute estimates this legislation, which increases in the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, would increase the gross domestic product by $22 billion, resulting in the creation of approximately 85,000 new jobs.
The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour provides an annual full-time salary of just over $15,000. The last increase in the federal minimum wage came in 2009, when the rate went from $6.55 to $7.25.
A map of minimum wage rates by state nationwide is available through the U.S. Department of Labor website at: http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/tipped.htm. More facts and studies about the minimum wage are available at: http://www.dol.gov/minwage.