Minimum Wage hardly kept pace with inflation (J. Bernstein)

The editors at Bloomberg have a good op-ed calling for the federal government to raise the pathetically low minimum wage. From Bloomberg:

Here’s an unhappy observation about the minimum wage: Congress last increased the rate in stages in 2006, topping it out at $7.25 an hour in 2009, or $15,080 a year.

That amount, when adjusted for inflation, is actually lower than what a minimum-wage worker earned in 1968 and is too meager to offer anyone the chance to climb out of poverty, let alone afford basic goods and services.

[...]

A team of economists, led by Arindrajit Dube of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, compared employment levels in contiguous areas with disparate minimum-wage levels over a 16-year period and concluded in a 2010 paper there are “strong earnings effects and no employment effects of minimum wage increases.”

The minimum wage in this country is too low.  Raising it would improve the lives of millions without hurting employment levels. I don’t have much to add to their argument, but there is nothing wrong with repeating good ideas and making sure more people hear about them.

I do think this is a rather sad reflection on the current state of our politics. President Obama did not raise the minimum age after he took office despite having an historically large Democratic majority. Obama also hasn’t really made it part of his 2012 campaign. I was unable to find a single reference to it on his campaign website; if one does exist it is extremely well hidden.

It is truly pathetic that a very business friendly, business news company is doing more to actively promote raising the minimum wage than a Democratic president.

[Chart from Jared Bernstein, at Huffington Post]