From Bloomberg, a look at the minimum wage debate via the state of Washington, which has the highest state minimum wage in the country.
Annie Lowrey examines "the basic-income movement" in the NYT Magazine's economics column this week, which is essentially a movement to give all citizens a basic income as a way to eradicate poverty. It's an idea that is in part supported by both conservatives and liberals. The problem, of course, is figuring out a way to fund it, but in theory, it would "replace welfare, food stamps, housing vouchers and hundreds of other programs, all at once."
On Bloomberg's The Ticker, Stephen Mihm looks at the history of how minimum wages were set by looking at the laws that were put into place after the Black Death ravaged medieval England and laborers were in short supply and in high demand. King Edward III set a maximum wage to prevents serfs from asking for un-serf-like compensation, but the laws governing wages were then used to set a "living wage."
The team at Mother Jones used data from the National Employment Law Project, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Economic Policy Institute's Family Budget Calculator (which I posted about last week) to calculate what it would take to earn a living in different metropolitan areas on fast food wages. The example I used below, is again based on the single mom with three children I spoke to. One thing that this calculator allows you to do that the family budget one didn't is to look at the data from the perspective of a single person.
Bloomberg Businessweek has a fun graphic looking at the minimum wage by the numbers in the U.S. and a few other countries.
Over at the Motley Fool, a popular investment news and tips site, Morgan Housel writes that adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage has declined by 30 percent over the course of 40 years, while the percentage of Americans on food stamps rose. This indicates, as we've noted previously, that the public is essentially subsidizing low-wage work.
In Next City, Nona Willis Aronowitz looks at the story behind the minimum wage increase in San Jose, which jumped to $10 per hour from $8 per hour after the city's residents voted for the increase last November—"the single largest minimum-wage jump in the nation’s history." The story is complicated.
Today, Low Pay Is Not Okay, the campaign to increase wages for fast food workers previously pointed out the ridiculousness of the McBudget and the McResources hotline telling workers to sign up for welfare benefits. Today, the campaign has a video out showing other kinds of "advice" listed on the employee McResources site.
In the Seattle Times Thanh Tan writes about Seattle-based burger joint Dick's Drive In, which pays its employees $10 an hour to start with regular merit raises, a 401(k) retirement plan with employer match, up to three weeks of paid vacation, paid time for volunteer service, health and dental benefits, up to $22,000 in scholarships for employees working at least 20 hours a week while attending school, and up to $8,000 in child care assistance.
James Surowiecki tackles the fast food low wage debate this week by looking at the shift in the American economy in the last few decades, the key thing being that fast food jobs were never considered the kind of jobs a person would take to support a family until fairly recently (fast food jobs were mostly dominated by teens who used the money to buy stuff and go to the movies). Manufacturing and factory jobs were where people used to go to find a job that paid a decent enough salary to raise a family, but as we've seen, those jobs are quickly disappearing while the retail and fast food business are now becoming America's biggest employers. They've done this by doing what they've always done—pay people low wages, and not keeping up with inflation (in 1968, the minimum wage was $10.70 in inflation-adjusted dollars).