Minimum Wage Will Rise Today

Fred Bryant, who earns minimum wage at a carwash in Bossier City, La., will get a raise of 70 cents an hour.
Fred Bryant, who earns minimum wage at a carwash in Bossier City, La., will get a raise of 70 cents an hour. (By Mario Villafuerte -- Bloomberg News)

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By Jesse J. Holland
Associated Press
Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The nation's lowest-paid workers will soon find extra money in their pockets as the minimum wage rises 70 cents to $5.85 an hour today, the first increase in a decade.

It ends the longest span without a federal minimum wage increase since it was enacted in 1938. The previous increase came in September 1997, when a bill signed by President Bill Clinton raised the minimum 40 cents, to $5.15 an hour.

Legislation signed by President Bush in May increases the wage 70 cents each summer until 2009, when all minimum-wage jobs will pay no less than $7.25 an hour.

Government figures show about 1.7 million people earned $5.15 or less in 2006.

The increase is one of the few major legislative successes of the Democratic-controlled Congress. Lawmakers added the increase to the $120 billion Iraq war spending bill, which Bush initially vetoed because the Democrats insisted on a troop pullout date. Bush signed the bill May 25 after the Democrats removed their pullout provision.

To help make the minimum wage provision palatable to Republicans, Democrats added $4.8 billion in tax breaks for small businesses to help them hire new workers and offset any costs associated with an increase in the minimum wage.

Democratic presidential candidates are making further minimum wage increases an issue in their primary campaigns. More than two dozen states and the District of Columbia already have minimum wages higher than the federal level.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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