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Leading economists support federal minimum wage increase

Proposed legislation that would gradually increase the federal minimum wage was endorsed by 75 well-known economists in a letter addressed to federal lawmakers and President Obama. The wage law is being sponsored by two Democratic members of Congress, one from the House and one from the Senate. Missouri's minimum wage is currently $7.50 per hour.

It is estimated that there are currently around 1.6 million U.S. employees who are earning the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Although that is only a small fraction of the more than 17 million employees in the U.S. who are paid an hourly wage, many economists believe that a rise in the minimum wage would lead to a rise in pay for other hourly workers as well. In its first year, the Fair Minimum Wage Act would increase the current minimum wage by 95 cents to $8.20. The rate would continue to increase by 95 cents annually until it reached $10.10.

Under the bill's provisions, future increases in the minimum wage would go into effect automatically based on the rate of inflation. In their letter of endorsement, the economists asserted that an increase in the minimum wage could stimulate the economy by giving low income workers more money to spend. Although critics of the bill say that a higher minimum wage may lead to fewer jobs, many studies show otherwise.

Those who feel that their legal rights are being violated by their employer have several options to pursue. An employment law attorney may be able to help a client identify and document improper actions by an employer that will help in an action for relief.

Source: CNN Money, "75 economists back minimum wage hike", Jeanne Sahadi, January 14, 2014

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