McKenna To Minimum Wage Workers: Take A Paycut
By aaroncynic in News on Dec 9, 2009 3:00PM
In 1979, the federal minimum wage rate was $2.90 per hour; in 2009 it's $8.00 an hour in Illinois. That might seem like a large jump in wages, but when converted back to 1979 dollars, the current minimum wage translates to $2.73. It may seem like workers earn more today, but their dollars have less buying power. Given the spiraling costs of health care and the reality that many minimum wage workers don't work full time, a reduction in the minimum wage by even $1 an hour could be problematic for Illinois families. Even when the minimum wage in Illinois dribbles up to $8.25 an hour, that's only $2.80 an hour in 1979 dollars, still less than what workers made 30 years ago.
With many low paid workers already struggling to meet basic needs, it's hard to see how any politician could sell them on taking a pay cut. And while supporters and opponents on either side of the minimum wage debate tend to exaggerate the benefits and costs of raising the minimum wage, research indicates that raising the minimum wage benefits the community as a whole. In fact, there is empirical evidence that states that have higher minimum wages tend to experience faster small business growth than those with lower minimum wages. But then a big-time businessman like Andy McKenna knows that, right?