Monday, January 02, 2006

States Take Lead in Push to Raise Minimum Wages

NYT reported Despite Congressional refusal for almost a decade to raise the federal minimum wage, nearly half of the civilian labor force lives in states where the pay is higher than the rate set by the federal government. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have acted on their own to set minimum wages that exceed the $5.15 an hour rate set by the federal government, and this year lawmakers in dozens of the remaining states will debate raising the minimum wage. Some states that already have a higher minimum wage than the federal rate will be debating further increases and adjustments for inflation.

That is good. The states are where it should be done. If a state wants to run the risk of driving businesses to neighboring states where the wage levels are lower, they should have that right.
The last time the federal minimum wage was raised was in 1997 - when it was increased from $4.75 an hour. Since then, efforts in Congress to increase the amount have been stymied largely by Republican lawmakers and business groups who argued that a higher minimum wage would drive away jobs.
And it still may drive away jobs. But rather than driving them to Canada or Mexico, maybe this way they would drive them from New York to New Jersey, or California to Arizona, or from Blue States to Red States.

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