To the Editor:
Two bills in Congress to raise the minimum wage by about 95 cents per year for the next three years are HR1010 and S460. We, the undersigned, urge readers to contact their congressmen and senators to urge passage of these bills.
The minimum wage is now $7.25. If these bills pass, then over the next three years, the minimum wage would increase to $10.10.
Currently, if a worker is able to get 2,000 hours of work per year (in 50 40-hour weeks)—and unfortunately, not all can—he or she earns a yearly gross wage of $14,500, which is below the U.S. Department of Labor threshold of $1,245 per month ($14,940 annually) for receiving food stamps. If this worker’s wages increased by 95 cents an hour, he or she would earn $16,400 and thus would be raised above the poverty guideline.
The poverty guideline for two persons in a household is $15,510. With an increase of 95 cents per hour in wages—a couple, or a single parent with one child—would then be above the poverty level. With a three-person family, it would take a wage of $21,000, or $10.10 per hour, to raise them above the poverty level.
It is difficult to find statistics about the number of minimum wage workers in the Oak Ridge area, but it is safe to say than an increase in the minimum wage of $2.85 per hour over the next three years would increase their discretionary spending and help stimulate the local economy.
If you would like to see fewer people earning a wage that keeps them in poverty and forces reliance on government subsidies, and would like to see more local economic activity, then please urge our senators and congressmen to pass S460/HR1010.
Anne Garcia Garland