Today, on the fifth anniversary of the last increase in the minimum wage, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) debuts a pay-cut clock to show how much, down to the second, minimum-wage workers continue to lose as long as the wage remains frozen at its current level.
The minimum wage was last raised in 2009, when it went from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour. While this was a much needed increase in pay for millions of minimum-wage and low-wage workers, inflation has eroded the purchasing power of the minimum wage since then. This essentially amounts to a continual pay cut for millions of workers. To document the dollar amount of this pay cut, each second, CEPR’s “Minimum-Wage Workers Pay-Cut Clock” updates the total cumulative amount minimum wage workers in the U.S. have lost since the last increase in the minimum wage. Currently that amount is over $6 billion and climbing.
Even when raised to $7.25, the current minimum wage fell below its inflation-adjusted 1968 level, the historic high for the minimum wage. To illustrate just how low today’s minimum wage is, the clock also shows and updates the cumulative dollars lost by minimum wage workers since 2009 if the minimum wage then had been at its inflation-adjusted 1968 level.
The Pay-Cut Clock will be featured in today’s press conference held by U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), U.S. Representative George Miller (D-CA), and U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) commemorating the anniversary.
Christine Owen, the Executive Director of the National Unemployment Law Project and a speaker at the press conference, said of the pay-cut clock and the minimum wage, “This ‘pay-cut clock’ shows just how much congressional failure to raise the minimum wage is costing America’s working families and the economy overall. With millions of workers losing billions in pay since 2009–and hundreds of billions of dollars since the high water mark for the minimum wage in 1968–, it’s no wonder families are falling farther behind and income inequality has exploded even as corporate profits and CEO compensation soar. Corporate chieftains and elected officials would never countenance this gutting of pay for the highly compensated. That they find it acceptable for workers at the bottom of the pay scale is indefensible.”
The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.
Alan Barber, (202) 293-5380 x115