The Minimum Wage: Time to Start Working On the Next Increase

By Jared Bernstein

February 7, 2012

I've always thought the national minimum wage is a lot more important than most people tend to think. By definition, it sets a floor on the low end of the job market, though to their credit, many states now set their minimums above the federal level of $7.25 (Washington state clocks in at a cool $9.04). So it's a floor, not a ceiling.

Lots of low-wage workers and their families depend on it, and its long slide, as shown in the figure below, especially over the Reagan years, contributed to wage losses and working poverty for many who toil to this day in low-end services.

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Who is the Reaganest? GOP Hopefuls, Take our Quiz!
By David Reeves and Anne Thompson

Several GOP presidential candidates have made competing claims to the Reagan mantle this election season. So in order to determine once and for all which candidates truly honor the Gipper’s legacy, we are submitting the following questionnaire to the remaining Republican presidential nominee contenders. (Except for you, Mitt-- you were disqualified in 1994.)
All other candidates, please return immediately to
1. Reagan nearly tripled the federal budget deficit. Describe how this is Barack Obama’s fault.
2. If a train leaves St. Louis for New York at 12:07pm traveling 74 mph, and another leaves Hartford for Charlotte at 4:40pm traveling 87 mph, how much would you slash Food Stamps?
3. Now that Reaganomics has been discredited by economists, how would you rebrand the exact same doctrine to sell it to the American “people” (non-corporate persons)?

A) The Golden Trickle
B) Los Reaganomicos - El Sabor de la Libertad
C) Unchain the Job Creators
D) ReaganMnemonics

4. Have you ever had a non-sexual dream about President Reagan?

5. Do you like jelly beans?

6. Complete the following quotation: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this _______!”

A) Ruby Tuesday’s
B) Planned Parenthood Clinic
C) Wall
D) Housing project

7. Are you or have you ever been an African-American woman using welfare to purchase a luxury sedan? C’mon, you can tell us...

8. Draw a picture of Reagan as a caped superhero.

9. If elected President, would you use the power of the Bully Pulpit to pressure Netflix to transition Reagan’s blockbuster Bedtime for Bonzo from DVD-only to Watch Instantly?

10. You’d never illegally sell arms to Iran, right? (wink wink)

The FactsThe Facts


How much the federal minimum wage would be if it had kept up with inflation over the past 40 years. Instead, itís $7.25. Learn More


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