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Minimum Wage Increases Today

July 24, 2007

The federal minimum wage goes up today for the first time in almost a decade. And workers' advocates are planning a rally at the Minnesota State Capitol to mark the occasion. Rally spokesman Don McFarland says, while it's not the solution to poverty, it's a good first step.

"For the last ten years, American workers earning the minimum wage made just under $11,000 annually -- nearly $6,000 below the poverty line level for a family of three. Nearly 13 million people are estimated to benefit from the increase that we're going to start seeing today."

The federal minimum now goes from $5.15 to $5.85. Over the next two years, it increases to $7.27. McFarland notes that is still below the poverty level and doesn't cover all workers, such as tipped employees, but that it's a step forward.

McFarland adds there will be action nationwide today to show support for American families, and support for living wages.

"We're here today, on the steps of the State Capitol, to celebrate the first boost in the federal minimum wage in nearly a decade. And, this will coincide with celebrations in 35 states across the country and a major rally in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., which is expected to draw thousands of people."

He adds that the new federal minimum doesn't pre-empt state law, which is higher for some jobs, but, while an increase in the bottom salary is good news, not everyone benefits.

"I don't think it's the end of the battle in Minnesota for minimum wage. We still have an issue in minimum wage surrounding tipped employees get the minimum wage. So, the battle in Minnesota is certainly not over. It will continue next year in Minnesota in the State Capitol in St.Paul."

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN