Kansas City readers may have recently heard about President Obama’s recent initiative to increase the minimum wage. The federal minimum wage was last increased in 2009, and analysts note that it has significantly lagged behind increases in the cost of living. Since the recession of 2009, a majority of new jobs have gone to workers earning minimum wage, and these workers are predominantly women over the age of 20; about one-fourth of them are parents listing a dependent child. President Obama’s proposed changes in federal wage laws, which include establishing a permanent link between minimum wage and the rate of inflation, are a direct response to these relatively new shifts in the workforce demographic.

Opponents referred to the potential hike as a rise in the cost of employment and are predicting dire consequences. They point to data from the Southern Economic Journal, which estimates that an increase would cost the economy 467,000 jobs. They assert that low-skill workers will have a more difficult time finding employment and that the increase’s negative consequences will be passed on to consumers.

Supporters of the increase argue that more money in the hands of working Americans will mean an increase in consumer spending. So far, 19 states have already increased minimum wage beyond the federal limit, and some have also linked it to inflation or to the cost of living as the initiative proposes to do.

Workers earning minimum wage often have a difficult time making ends meet. They often struggle with juggling multiple part-time jobs and the needs of family. Unfortunately, employers sometimes take advantage of these workers by denying overtime, mandatory breaks and other breaches of the Fair Labor Standards Act. When workers face such abuse, they may benefit from seeking the assistance of an experienced employment law attorney.

Source: The Kansas City Star, “Obama’s push for a minimum wage increase sets off a fierce debate,” Diane Stafford, Feb. 13, 2013