In the fight to raise America’s minimum wage, no one was probably betting on the state of Maryland to lead the way. In the nation’s capital, the D.C. Council voted to raise the local minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to $11.50 per hour. The measure is expected to be approved by Democratic Mayor Vincent Gray.
There was concern that Gray would fight the wage hike, as he had already expressed concerns that such a drastic increase in hourly wages would negatively impact local businesses. Gray had also already vetoed a previous bill that would have seen hourly wages increase to over $12.50 an hour. It seems that a dollar off that amount is a compromise willing to be had as no one is expecting a veto.
Across the nation, battle lines are being drawn as those working for minimum wage march and protest, saying that what is offered at minimum wage is just not enough to live on. Their argument is that the only way to allow more Americans to stay above the poverty line would be to raise earning dollars for the poorest of working Americans. Fast food workers are demanding $15 an hour. At the same time, Congress gearing up to discuss passage of an Obama-backed bill that would raise federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.
The spotlight remains on the state of Maryland, where aside from the District of Columbia, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County have also voted to raise the minimum wage to $11.50. The difference is that both counties hope to gradually increase minimum wage by 2017 rather than 2016. There is talk that the unanimous effort was meant to ensure increases in all locations.
New York looks stingy by comparison, where next year the state will see the minimum wage increase to $8.00 per hour. The state expects to reach $9.00 per hour by 2015.
Nearly 5% of America’s workforce receives hourly wages at around minimum wage. These individuals also tend to be enrolled in government aid programs such as welfare, food stamps, and Medicaid.
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