Federal Minimum Wage Increased To $6.55 An Hour In July

Minimum_WageWhile everyone on Wall Street continues to sweat over the souring economy, minimum wage employees had something to look forward to this month: a mandatory raise, in the form of a seventy-cent increase in the federal minimum wage. The increase raises the minimum wage to $6.55, the second step in an incremental three-step minimum wage increase that will put the wage at $7.25 next summer. According to a report on NPR, while this incremental minimum wage increase is the first in a decade, the rate is still lagging behind inflation, and is far from the high minimum wages workers enjoyed in the 1960s and 1970s.

So who will be affected by the wage increase? Nearly one quarter of the people receiving minimum wage are teenagers. About half of minimum wage workers are working full time. Many seniors take minimum wage jobs as well, reports NPR, often as a supplement to Social Security checks and pensions. Seniors working minimum wage jobs are likely to reap the most benefit from the wage increase, as many are in need of extra salary to offset healthcare costs.

Some fear that the wage increases come at an inopportune time for small business owners, given the current uncertainty in the economy, and that the increase may reflect in job losses among the nation’s lowest income bracket. Despite the opposition from some business leaders, the wage increase comes at a time when low income employees are particularly hard hit by inflation and high energy prices, pressure that should hopefully be alleviated somewhat by the mandatory wage increase. Even with the increased minimum wage, working full time at that salary is only yields $13,624 a year, still $8,000 below the federal poverty line for a family of four.


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