Will Increasing the Minimum Wage Help the Poor?
After holding at $3.35 per hour from 1983 to 1989, the minimum wage has been raised four times over the past decade, reaching $5.15 per hour in September 1997. Recently, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 1999 was introduced in Congress; if enacted, it would raise the minimum wage an additional dollar over the next two years to $6.15.1 According to its proponents, the primary rationale for increasing the minimum wage is to raise the incomes of poor and near-poor families with members in the workforce. Introducing the Fair Minimum Wage Act in the U.S. Senate on January 19, 1999, Senator Edward Kennedy declared, “I intend to do all I can to see that the minimum wage is increased this year. No one who works for a living should have to live in poverty.”
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