For Immediate Release: July 24, 2014
Contact: Alan Barber (202) 293-5380 x115
Washington DC – Today, on the fifth anniversary of the last increase in the minimum wage, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) debuts a pay cut clock to show how much, down to the second, minimum wage workers continue to lose as long as the wage remains frozen at its current level.
The minimum wage was last raised in 2009, when it went from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour. While this was a much needed increase in pay for millions of minimum wage and low-wage workers, inflation has eroded the purchasing power of the minimum wage since then. This essentially amounts to a continual pay cut for millions of workers. To document the dollar amount of this pay cut, each second, CEPR’s “Minimum Wage Workers Pay Cut Clock” updates the total cumulative amount minimum wage workers in the U.S. have lost since the last increase in the minimum wage. Currently that amount is over $6 billion and climbing.
Even when raised to $7.25, the current minimum wage fell below its inflation-adjusted 1968 level, the historic high for the minimum wage. To illustrate just how low today’s minimum wage is, the clock also shows and updates the cumulative dollars lost by minimum wage workers since 2009 if the minimum wage then had been at its inflation-adjusted 1968 level.
The Pay Cut Clock will be featured in today’s press conference held by U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), U.S. Representative George Miller (D-CA), and U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) commemorating the anniversary.
Christine Owens, the Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project and a speaker at the press conference, said of the pay cut clock and the minimum wage, “This ‘pay cut clock’ shows just how much congressional failure to raise the minimum wage is costing America’s working families and the economy overall. With millions of workers losing billions in pay since 2009—and hundreds of billions of dollars since the high water mark for the minimum wage in 1968--, it’s no wonder families are falling farther behind and income inequality has exploded even as corporate profits and CEO compensation soar. Corporate chieftains and elected officials would never countenance this gutting of pay for the highly compensated. That they find it acceptable for workers at the bottom of the pay scale is indefensible.”