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What You Need to Know About Federal Minimum Wage

While today’s society seems fast-paced and dynamic, at least one thing has remained constant- minimum wage. It has been five years since the federal minimum wage was raised. On July 24, 2009, as the result of the last in a series of increased passed by a Democratic-controlled Congress, the wage floor was raised from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour. That is where it remains today.

Democratic proponents of an increase in minimum wage used the five-year anniversary as an opportunity to voice their case.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) argued that a minimum wage increase would be a financial boon for local economies across the country. They unveiled a new online ticker, created by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which estimated that minimum wage workers would have been paid an additional $6 billion since 2009 if the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation. They also pointed to recent findings by the Labor Department that 13 states that increased their minimum wages earlier this year have been experiencing faster job growth than the states that didn’t.

While 29 states have mandated a higher minimum wage, an act of Congress is required to raise it on the federal level. Harkin and Miller had previously introduced a plan which would change the law so the federal minimum wage rises each year with the cost of living. They proposed boosting the wage floor to $10.10 per hour and then tying it to an inflation index.

While President Obama backs the proposal, the Democratic push is not without opposition. Republicans continue to fight the potential hike. In April, Senate Republicans voted against Harkin and Miller’s plan.

While top Democrats vowed to reintroduce the bill this year, it remains unclear when (or if) they will reintroduce it and whether they have a viable path toward winning approval this year. Even if the measure had passed in the Senate, the chances that the wage increase could make it through the Republican-run House of Representatives this year seemed improbable.

In Florida, what you need to know about federal minimum wage is, it’s currently $7.93 and is increased annually based upon a cost of living formula.

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* Cathleen Scott is licensed to practice in Florida only.

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