Democrats led by Rep. Jesse Jackson of Illinois have proposed legislation on Wednesday that would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 per hour.
The bill, called the Catch Up to 1968 Act, is necessary according to its 18 sponsors to help workers catch up to inflation, which Jackson said is eating away at the current minimum wage, according to the Hill. The congressmen said that even at $10 per hour, the minimum wage would still be below 1968 levels when adjusted for inflation.
The bill will affect more than 30 million workers and give the economy an immediate boost by significantly increasing aggregate demand, Jackson said. Most economists that I've talked with said there was no economic reason to increase it incrementally over a couple of years.
Reps. John Conyers, Jr., of Michigan and Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, along with consumer advocate Ralph Nader, announced the proposal along with Jackson at a press conference in Washington, D.C.
Under the legislation, the minimum wage would be indexed to the Consumer Price Index, which would allow the minimum wage to rise automatically above $10 per hour as inflation rises.
Congress has not passed a bill to increase the minimum wage since 2006, when it put in place a series of increases that ended in 2009. The move raised the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour.
Full-time workers who bring in $7.25 per hour earn approximately $16,240 per year, before taxes. In 2010, about 1.8 million American workers received the federal minimum wage, while another 2.5 million had wage below the minimum, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Together, those 4.4 million workers made up about 6 percent of all hourly paid workers in the nation.
While running for office, President Barack Obama promised to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 per hour by 2011. Both he and his 2012 Republican opponent Mitt Romey have said they support the idea of adjusting the minimum wage to keep up with inflation.