By Morf Morford February 11, 2020
Politicians are notorious for claiming credit for work they didn’t do or that was done before they came along. Exaggeration and hyperbole is part of the landscape. If you or I spoke like that, or represented ourselves on our resumes as having made those accomplishments, we’d be fired or worse.
When it comes to pay, for example, annual cost of living increases used to be standard. These pay increases would be tied to the cost of living and would match the rate of inflation. The assumption was not that this would be a raise – at least in the usual sense – but an increase in pay that would maintain pay in balance with the increase of the cost of basic goods.
The cost of living, never equal in different parts of the country, changes at different rates – even within different neighborhoods – and is rarely, if ever static.
As much as most of us would like a pay raise, any large scale increase brings chaos.
We are safe from that particular hazard.
But we are not safe from stagnating pay scales.
About 20 states raised their minimum wages at the outset of 2020. Most had not changed their minimum wage for years – if not decades.
The federal minimum wage remains unchanged at $7.25 per hour.
The minimum wage, we tend to forget, is the minimum living wage. It is NOT a training wage or a beginner’s pay (for part-time teenagers for example).
The average age for someone who makes minimum wage is 35 – and a third of them are at least 40. (1*)
And the number of people working at (or near) minimum wage is increasing – as is the number of those with more than one minimum wage job.
About 5 percent of part-time workers (people who usually work fewer than 35 hours per week) were paid the federal minimum wage or less, compared with about 1 percent of full-time workers.
Source: Wage increases here and there