Wednesday the U. S. House of Representatives approved a non-binding “motion to instruct” that high-skilled and high-wage jobs should pay not less than $7.25 per hour as defined in the Fair Minimum Wage Act. Twenty-five Republicans also wrote a letter to House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) asking for a vote on the minimum wage before the summer recess.
But these moves were largely symbolic and did nothing to actually raise the American worker’s minimum wage, says the watchdog group, Center for American Progress.
The New York Times noted yesterday, “For a family of three, the minimum wage of $10,700, set in 1997, is now more than $5,000 below the federal definition of poverty. In that same time, a lawmaker’s salary rose $31,600 -- better than 20 percent -- while the purchasing power of a minimum-wage earner deteriorated by 20 percent.”
Conservative lawmakers and business groups have fought against a minimum wage increase over the past eight years, arguing that “above normal market levels will cause employers to cut back on hiring the very low-wage workers an increase would be intended to benefit.” But these groups are actually resisting increasing the minimum wage because it would cut into their profits.
The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities reports that low-wage workers have been left out of the overall growth of the economy and Senate Democrats note that the minimum wage has lagged “far behind prices for gasoline, health care and college tuition.” On the other hand, “corporate profits receive a larger share of national income than at any time in 39 years.