Politics & Government
1:28 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

President Obama in Ann Arbor today calling for a minimum wage increase

A minimum wage increase is something President Obama has been calling for since he was a candidate.

Buzzfeed has a whole collection of "I'm going to raise the minimum wage" videos from campaign stops Obama made in 2008.

Here's one of them:

Today, Mr. Obama is calling for an increase in the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016. The White House has a whole set of reasons of why they want to see the minimum wage raised.

Supporters of the increase argue that current minimum wage is worth less in today's dollars than it was in the 1950s. And that the value of minimum wage has been declining over the years.

  • Today the minimum wage in Michigan is $7.40 an hour.
  • In 1968, the minimum wage in Michigan was $8.43 an hour in today's dollars. 

Here's a chart that the Washington Post put together showing how the value of the federal minimum wage has been declining over the years.

Proponents argue that an increase will benefit more than 28 million workers nationwide – 972,100 of which are in Michigan.

From President Obama's op-ed piece in the Detroit News:

It’s important to remember that most workers who would get a raise when Congress passes this bill aren’t teenagers taking on their first job. They average 35 years old. A majority of lower-wage jobs are held by women. Many of these Americans work full-time to support a family, and if the minimum wage had kept pace with our workers’ productivity, they’d be earning well over $10 an hour today.

So will raising the minimum wage help or hurt the overall economy?

As Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post points out, economists are divided over this question.

The chair of President Obama's Economic Advisory Council studied the issue and found that increasing wages had no discernible effect on overall employment.

The Congressional Budget Office recently released a report that found that a $10.10-an-hour increase in 2016 would result in 16.5 million workers earning more per week, but would also result in a loss of around 500,000 workers.

Matthews points out that if the purpose is to raise the living standard of the poor, working with the Earned Income Tax credit makes more sense:

According to a 2007 study by the CBO, an increase in the minimum wage to $7.25, like that eventually passed that year, would increase wages by $11 billion, of which $1.6 billion went to poor families.

By contrast, increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit for large families (as happened in the stimulus bill) and for single people would cost $2.4 billion, of which $1.4 billion would go to poor families. The EITC option costs one-fifth as much to society but does about as much good for poor families. 

The president will try to convince voters this afternoon that raising the minimum wage will go a long way to lift a lot of boats in this country.

And in Michigan, we could be voting on a minimum wage increase this fall.