State of the Union: A wage you can live on?

DID YOU KNOW that, depending on where you move across the United States, your minimum wage may differ? The chart above was prepared by the Department of Labor (DoL). (Visit the DoL site for more information on variances.) Suddenly, Americans are buzzing about the minium wage, once again—since President Obama argued that it was time for “the wealthiest nation on Earth” to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour.

Do you think this is a good idea? Will it help or hurt the economy?

“This single step,” he argued, “would raise the incomes of millions of working families. It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead. For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets. And a whole lot of folks out there would probably need less help from government.” He went further and said that the minimum wage should be tied to the cost of living—“so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.”

There’s a classic (usually partisan) divide on the minimum wage. Obama’s defense is the standard one in favor of it. Those on the other side say that increasing the minimum wage leads to more unemployment. The divide persists despite the conclusion of several studies that the minimum wage and unemployment are unrelated.

As the chart, above, shows us: State law may set a minimum wage above, below, or at the same rate as the federal minimum wage—or not set any minimum at all. Four states have set lower rates (Minnesota, Wyoming, Arkansas, and Georgia). Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have set higher rates. Twenty-two states have set the minimum wage to the same rate as the federal standard. And, five states don’t specify a minimum wage (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee).

Whenever state law and federal law have different minimums, the higher one prevails. So, for example, employers in Arkansas are required to pay at least $7.25 an hour, not the $6.25 minimum wage specified by state law.

Do you support an increase in the minimum wage to $9.00?

Would it be a “living wage”?

Would it harm or help the economy?

Please, leave a Comment below.

Originally published at, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.

Print Friendly
Comments: (0)
Categories: Uncategorized