A total of 13 states officially raised minimum wage on January 1. I guess, they realized that waiting for Congress to do it, or even work out a political calculation, by which they could get more votes for either doing it, not doing it, or doing it by how much?
What a way to kick off the year for the folks in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington!
New statitics are out there showing that raising the wages to a living wage of only $25,000 per year (minimum wage now, adds up to barely $15,000 a year, which is below the poverty level) would lift 3 quarters of a million people out of poverty, increase GDP by $11.8 billion and create as many as 100,000 new jobs. (These numbers are from the AFL-CIO). I have seen other numbers that indicate that a $10.10 an hour minimum wage would lift as many as 5 million people out of poverty, though I wonder about that number in comparison to the one above, since $10.10 would raise the before-taxes pay to just over $21,000 a year. Mind you, if you have been used to $15K, $21K is going to make you feel rich. $11 an hour, which is popular on the Net, would almost make it to $23,000 a year before taxes. To achieve the AFL-CIO number of $25k per year, the wage would have to be just slightly above $12 an hour.
Those are raw numbers compared to what is being claimed. Of course, local cost of living, etc. are huge factors in how far the dollars can stretch for the wage-earners.
Now, the numerically filled paragraph above, is actually more detailed conversation than ANYONE in Congress has had on the matter. They will talk tax breaks all over the place, and the GOP are only interested in what sort of perks and cuts to other programs they can force before even talking about extending unemployment benefits (which they did not, and 1.3 million people just got booted from the program in time for the huge blizzard and frigid temps).
11 other states are looking to raise minimum wage without the Federal government. And local governing bodies are considering this as well.
I've said it before, and will say it many times more: start locally and make changes upward, not wait for the Federal government to fix things. We have to solve things locally, and inspire up from there. Perhaps the folks in DC will eventually realize how embarassing it is for them to be shown up by local governments, who are doing a better job of taking care of the citizens.
That would imply that they have the ability to feel shame, so don't hold your breath.