Business & Economics

The unfinished march toward a decent minimum wage

Sylvia Allegretto

It was fifty years ago the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place. The demand for a higher minimum wage was part of a package of demands seeking economic justice for workers through government intervention in the labor market. At that time, the wage floor was $1.15 and marchers were demanding a raise to $2.00. Today, that 50 year old demand would be worth about $13.39 when adjusted for price changes.

To Work with Dignity” with my co-author Steven Pitts is the first in a series titled “The Unfinished March” that the Economic Policy Institute is releasing to review the demands, analyze the progress made, and determine the unfinished steps necessary to fully achieve each of the goals of the 1963 March.
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If we are at all concerned or serious about ever widening inequality, poverty rates that haven’t improved for decades and falling incomes not just for low-wage workers but even for average workers—then it is simply time to raise the minimum wage. In March, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013. The Miller-Harkin bill is a modest bill that would increase the wage floor to $10.10 in steps and would move us closer to meeting the unmet demand.

See “To Work with Dignity” to find out more about the history and context of the demand for a $2.00 minimum wage.

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