Friday, January 6, 2012

More than the Minimum on Minimum Wage

MinnPost's Beth Hawkins has a thoughtful, information-filled piece about the minimum wage in Minnesota. Drawing on state statistics and the work of one of my favorite nonprofits, the Jobs Now Coalition, Hawkins lays it out.

  • "Under Minnesota law, certain employers can pay just $5.25 an hour, or even $4.90 for youth in training. Never mind that state statistics peg the hourly wage a single, childless adult needs to eke out a living to slightly less than $12. And two adults working to support two kids must each earn $14 an hour."
  • Almost 100,000 Minnesotans earned the federal minimum wage or less, out of 1.5 million hourly wage earner.
  • "If the federal minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since the late 1960s, it would be $10.03 today... 19 percent of Minnesota jobs pay less" than that.
  • "In 2010 dollars, Minnesota's minimum has fallen from $8.07 in 1974, when it was created, to $6.15. The U.S. minimum, meanwhile, fell from $8.97 to $7.25."
  • "Workers with some college education made up 60 percent of the hourly workforce and 43 percent of hourly workers at or below the minimum. Those without a high-school degree made up 10 percent of the hourly workforce and 32 percent of workers at or below the minimum." (emphasis added)
  • "Two-thirds are 24 years old or younger, and a similar percentage is women, who comprise more of the hourly wage workforce in general. Those earning the minimum or less are more likely to be single, live below the poverty line and live outside the metro area. Not surprisingly, about 43 percent of those paid the minimum or less worked in eating and drinking places."
All of which reminds me of a pair of tweets by economist Richard Florida from today:
The US faces an unskilled job crisis. Only way to solve it is to upgrade fast growing service jobs.

Manufacturing jobs were once dirty, dangerous & low paid. We made them good jobs. Must start to do the same with service jobs today.
Two statements that, amazingly to me, made no mention of the fact that unionization had a lot to do with the improvements in manufacturing jobs. And that unionizing employees in small businesses like restaurants, or even larger chains whose employees are scattered across the country, is a far cry from the model of the UAW or AFL CIO.

1 comment:

Cavewoman said...

Also, I can't imagine it would be easy to unionize in conditions where almost all the jobs are part time and a good percentage of employees are students working a first job.