On anniversary of last minimum wage increase, advocates call for a raise

click to enlarge On anniversary of last minimum wage increase, advocates call for a raise
CP File Photo: Jake Mysliwczyk
Pittsburghers in a Fight for $15 Labor Day demonstration in 2017

Today marks 13 years since the federal minimum wage was last raised, the longest period in history without an increase.

The federal minimum wage was at its peak purchasing power in 1968, when the minimum wage was worth $13.86 in 2022 dollars, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator.

“Every day without a raise is another day the minimum wage falls further behind the cost of living,” said Holly Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, a national organization of business owners advocating for raising the minimum wage. “When the minimum wage is set too low, workers can be making more than the minimum and still struggle to pay rent and feed themselves and their families. Minimum wage raises go right back into businesses and communities, as workers have more to spend as customers at local businesses.”

As recently as June, advocates for a minimum wage increase have urged President Joe Biden to take action on raising the federal minimum wage.

Twenty states, including Pennsylvania, have minimum wages no higher than the $7.25 federal level: Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and his administration have continued to call for a raise in Pennsylvania’s minimum wage from $7.25/hr to $15/hr through gradual increases.

Meanwhile, 11 states and Washington D.C. have enacted minimum wages at $15/hr or higher, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.

Cassie Miller is an associate editor at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story first appeared.