Minimum Wage...why it matters

Minimum Wage...why it matters

Today's Federal Minimum Wage is $7.25.

The purchasing power of the minimum wage reached it's peak in 1968 when Congress raised it from $1.00 per hour to $1.40 - in today's dollars, nearly $10.00 per hour.

We ask why we don't raise the minimum wage to that late-1960's level - giving 28 million people a raise and lifting 5 million people out of poverty.

Not much has changed since we declared war on poverty

In 1966, the official poverty rate was 14.7% - in 2014 it was 14.8%

Without government safety-net programs nearly 48 million more people would fall into poverty - doubling the current "official" number.

Here's the irony in that statement; 73% of the people receiving major public support benefits are members of working families. Nearly 146 million Americans live in struggling working-but-poor families.

What's wrong with the poverty line today... and how much does it really cost to live?

It doesn't matter where you live, the Federal Poverty line is the same all across America.

For a family of four, the estimated cost of living ranges from from a low of $49,114 per year in rural Tennessee to a high of $106,493 in Washington, DC. It will cost a family living in the Seattle area $48,000 more to live than the Federal Poverty line of $24,250 per year.

History of the Poverty Line

History of the Poverty Line

There was no poverty line in 1962 so Mollie Orshansky and her team at the Social Security Administration created their own - three times the cost of a basket of "survival" food made up primarily of items like dry beans, peas, and potatoes. The formula hasn't changed since President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty in 1964. 

In 2015, the Federal Poverty line for a family of three is $20,900. Today, a family spends only one-seventh of their income on food. If we updated Mollie's formula, the poverty line for our family of three would be over $48,000!