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Economists Say Minimum Wage Boost Would Help 20 Million Workers

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A group of prominent economists today urged President Obama and congressional leaders to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 an hour for three years. In a letter to the president and lawmakers they wrote: 

A higher minimum wage at this juncture will not only provide raises for low-wage workers but would provide some help on the jobs front as well.

The group, including Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University; former Labor Secretary Robert Reich; and Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), advocate a three-step raise of 85 cents a year for three years—which would mean a minimum wage of $9.80 by 2014—and then indexing to protect against inflation. They estimate close to 20 million workers would see a wage increase by 2014.

They also note that recent studies on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment show:

increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market. 

Click here for the full letter.

In related news, a coalition of groups, including the AFL-CIO, will hold a day of action tomorrow in more than 30 cities supporting legislation Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) will soon introduce to increase the minimum wage to $9.80 as the economists call for.  

Click here for a list of cities and here for more information on the minimum wage from the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

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