The lowest paid workers in the US will see an increase in their wages today for the first time in a decade. The US minimum hourly wage raise of 70 cents went into effect today, bringing it to $5.85 per hour. The Fair Minimum Wage Act, signed by President Bush in late May, mandates that the federal rate continue to climb by 70 cents every summer until 2009, when it will reach $7.25 an hour. The enactment of the law today ends the longest span without an increase since the creation of the minimum wage in 1938.
The increase was a chief objective for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during the first 100 hours of the new Congress. It signifies a key victory for women, who make up a majority of minimum wage workers. Representative Hilda L. Solis (D-CA) issued a statement on the importance of the increase, saying, “Women and minority workers are overrepresented among minimum wage workers. Too many women struggle to make ends meet throughout their working life and retirement. The Fair Minimum Wage Act will give 1.4 million working mothers a pay raise.”
Further increases are already up for debate in the Democratic primary. State minimum wage levels in more than two dozen states and the District of Columbia are already above the federal rate.