$22 Minimum Wage Matches U.S. Productivity, Says Senator

    March 19, 2013

Though the minimum wage in the U.S. has risen in recent years, the current $7.25 per hour minimum wage is still looking sparse when considered next to the rising cost of living in the U.S. Large hikes in the minimum wage aren’t likely due to the messiness of congress, but at least one senator believes the minimum wage should be at least triple what it currently is.

Last week, at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee meeting, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren compared the rise in the minimum wage since the 60’s to the rise in American workers’ productivity. Speaking to a University of Massachusetts Amherst economics professor, Warren stated that if the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity, it would be $22 per hour today. Warren pointedly asked the professor, Arindrajit Dube, why this wasn’t the case.

“My question, Mr. Dube, with a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, is what happened to the other $14.75,” asked Warren. “I sure didn’t go to the worker.”

Dube backed up Warren’s math, and even stated that if minimum wage had kept pace with the rise in income of the top 1% of taxpayers that it would have been around $33, before the recent recession.

Warren then went on to question David Rutigliano, owner of the Southport Brewing Company. Rutigliano took the side of small business owners, stating that his business doesn’t run the same way or with the same volume as a McDonalds, which Warren pointed out could weather a minimum wage hike with relative ease.