75 Economists Including 7 Nobel Laureates Endorse Senate Bill to Raise Minimum Wage

75 Economists Including 7 Nobel Laureates Endorse Senate Bill to Raise Minimum Wage

$10.10 an hour minimum wage increase shows an improvement but is still not a living wage, which would be twice the poverty rate at $12 an hour -   January 14, 2014
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

I support the real news because they deal with real issues, not meaningless articles and sound bites - Gary
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


Jeannette Wicks-Lim completed her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2005. Wicks-Lim specializes in labor economics with an emphasis on the low-wage labor market and has an overlapping interest in the political economy of race. Her dissertation, Mandated wage floors and the wage structure: Analyzing the ripple effects of minimum and prevailing wage laws, is a study of the overall impact of mandated wage floors on wages. Specifically, she provides empirical estimates of the extent to which mandated wage floors cause wage changes beyond those required by law, either through wage effects that ripple across the wage distribution or spillover to workers that are not covered by mandated wage floors. Jeannette regularly publishes commentary in Dollars and Sense. 


75 Economists Including 7 Nobel Laureates Endorse Senate Bill to Raise 
Minimum WageJESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

Thirteen states raised their minimum wage in 2014, but in the vast majority of states it still falls sort of a living wage, which is the hourly rate required for a full-time worker to support themselves and their families.

Now joining us to discuss this is Jeanette Wicks-Lim. She's an assistant research professor at the PERI institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Thanks for joining us, Jeanette.


DESVARIEUX: So, Jeanette, 75 leading economists, including seven Nobel laureates, today voiced support for the Senate Democrats' bill to wage raise the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016. Do you consider a $10.10--$10 an hour a living wage?

WICKS-LIM: Well, I think that getting the federal minimum wage up to $10.10 would certainly be a helpful step in the right direction.

I think if you want to think about what a living wage is and whether or not that rises to that level, I think you have to look for more progress. I mean, there are a lot of different ways that people measure what a living wage is. It's kind of a moving target in terms of how people define it. But the rule of thumb that I like to use is to consider what level of wages you would need to get a family up to about two times the federal poverty line. That's usually the place where families find themselves able to avoid serious economic hardships, like living in overcrowded housing, worrying about whether or not they can buy enough food, and worrying about whether or not they can even pay rent.

So if you think about what that means, you know, if you get to two times the federal poverty level, if you're looking at full-time year-round worker and say you have two workers in the household, if you can get them to about $12 an hour or something on the order of that range, then you're looking at something where people can afford their basic needs. It doesn't get them to a place where they're comfortable, but at least they're not facing the serious economic hardships that I just listed.

DESVARIEUX: Okay. So, essentially, the $10 mark, it falls short of that $12 living wage that you're talking about. But considering the wide range in terms of costs of living across the U.S., is it even appropriate for the federal government to decide what workers should be paid?

WICKS-LIM: Well, I think the important role of the federal government coming in and setting a standard nationwide is to really set the very bottom standard, you know, the lowest wage standard. If you look across the United States, currently there are something like 20-some states that have state minimum wages that are above the federal rate. And so you see--like, right now the federal minimum wage is operating as providing the very bottom of the bottom in terms of wage standard, and states then adjust and try to see what it looks like in their state in terms of cost of living and raise their state minimum wages up higher than that. If you look at, for example, Washington State, which is a fairly high cost of living state, they have a current minimum wage at about, I think, $9.32. So it's substantially higher than the federal minimum wage.

Unfortunately, the federal minimum wage hasn't moved since it was increased in two steps from 2007 to 2008 to 2009. And so it's been lagging behind in terms of its real value. And you see that even in states that have their minimum wage above the federal rate, they're still not quite getting workers to a place where they can afford basic needs.

DESVARIEUX: Okay. I want to talk more specifically about the workers that would be affected by increasing the minimum wage, 'cause according to the Congressional Research Service, 1.6 million hourly workers earn the minimum wage currently. That's really only about 1 percent of the U.S. workforce. Why is raising the minimum wage important if it only affects such a small segment of the labor market?

WICKS-LIM: Right. Well, that figure probably just refers to workers who are earning at or below the federal minimum wage where it stands currently, which is $7.25. It's a very low wage rate.

Now, if you're thinking about who would be affected by raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to this proposed $10.10--so you're looking at workers who are within that, you know, margin, $7.25 to $10.10, but you're also looking at workers who earn a little bit above that. You know, workers who are just above this new wage floor that's being proposed also get a bump up from the minimum wage going up. And the estimates I've seen in terms of the number of workers that would be affected by raising federal minimum wage up to $10.10 is on the order of about 28 million workers, which is about one in five workers in the U.S.

DESVARIEUX: Okay. And there are some people that even argue that there could be a ripple effect in the labor market.

WICKS-LIM: Right. That's what I was referring to. In terms of the workers who earn just about $10.10, if the federal minimum wage was hiked up to that level, $10.10, workers just above that would also get a small raise. So you're looking at workers between probably about $10.10 and about $12 an hour getting small raises from that minimum wage hike.

DESVARIEUX: Alright. Jeanette Wicks-Lim, thank you so much for joining us.

WICKS-LIM: Thanks for having me.

DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com


Latest Stories

Wilkerson: The Hypocrisy of U.S. Syria Policy (1/2)
"Being a Founding White Father Ain't What It Used To Be:" Student Protests on College Campuses
Days of Revolt: Militarizing Education
Historic Win for the Right in Argentina's National Election
How I Joined the CIA - John Kiriakou on Reality Asserts Itself (2/10)
Sanders Defines his Social Democracy
MD Among Lowest Number of Hate Crimes in the Nation
Report: The Population of Women in Prison Has Tripled Since the '90s
Native American Genocide & Survival with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
History Will Judge America on Syrian Refugee Crisis As "Shameful"
I Believed America Could Do No Wrong - John Kiriakou, Former CIA Official, on Reality Asserts Itself (1/10)
N Don't Stop - Brook Park + TBB on Rooftop Live
The Black Panthers: A Revolution In Review
What's Fueling Boko Haram Attacks in Nigeria?
Is Obama Walking Into COP21 With An Empty Hand?
Back to Square One, Obama Says Assad Must Go
Towson President Agrees to Students' Demands After Eight-Hour Occupation
The Pentagon and Bernie Sanders Agree: Terrorism Linked to Climate Change
"They Think They've Won"
Canadian PM Trudeau Halts Bombings in Syria, But Is It a Real Shift in Policy?
Between ISIS and Intervening Powers, Perpetual Conflict is Common Goal
Cancer-Causing Processed Meats Largely Affect Low Income Neighborhoods
Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
Why Did ISIS Target Paris?
Is Obama Abandoning the Demand For Assad to Step Down?
DC Mass Action: Global Citizens, Michael Moore, and an Alpaca Come Together in Protest of TPP
Remembering Joe Hill
Jamar Clark's Killer Cops Identified Amid Growing Protests in Minneapolis
The Making of Norman Finkelstein - Reality Asserts Itself (6/8)
Terrorism Expert: Islamic State Sustains Itself Through a War Economy

RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting