President Obama has renewed talk of a higher minimum wage - he proposes $9 per hour instead of the current $7.25 federal minimum. Is it a good idea? These sites delve into the debate.
States can set their own minimum wages, and most do, although if the state rate differs from the federal rate, the higher rate is the one that usually applies. The U.S. Department of Labor hosts an interactive map that shows the minimum wage in each state. New Jersey and Pennsylvania, for example, hold to the federal $7.25-per-hour rate. In Washington state, it's $9.19.
You can weigh in on a debate over whether there should be a minimum wage at all. At Debate.org, comments were running strongly in favor of minimum-wage standards, by 3-1. The site lays out basic arguments for and against a minimum wage, some based on ideas of fairness, others on whether a minimum wage stimulates or hurts the overall economy. Many of the reader comments are, perhaps predictably, less reasoned.
Disappearing minimum-wage jobs were the subject of this report last week at CNNMoney. Unclear is whether the reduction is because workers often get higher wages or because of job eliminations.
The president's $9 wage plan and reasons behind it are detailed in this page at Whitehouse.gov. "Right now," the proposal says, "a full-time minimum-wage worker makes $14,500 a year - which leaves too many families struggling to make ends meet, with a family of four with a minimum-wage worker still living below the poverty line."
The National Employment Law Project advocates for stronger minimum-wage provisions. It says here that if the minimum wage had risen with inflation over the last 40 years, it would be $10.59 an hour. Here's the project's minimum-wage site:
A higher minimum wage would "cut employment, reduce access to the entry-level positions that lead to better jobs, increase poverty, and motivate teenagers to leave school," according to this post from a small-business perspective at Entrepreneur.com.
A small-business advocacy group, the National Federation of Independent Business, sets out its arguments against higher minimum wages on this page. The minimum wage is especially important for small businesses, the group says. For example, the federation says small businesses are less able than big ones to absorb higher costs, so instead of helping workers, higher wages push business owners to look for ways to use fewer people.