Senate Democrats

A Fair Minimum Wage before a Congressional Pay Raise

Bush Republicans are preparing to give Congress a pay increase. Democrats believe Congress should not get a raise before the American people do. Here are some key facts on the minimum wage. It’s time for a new direction.

A Minimum Wage Worker Would Need to Work 642 Hours – 16 Weeks of Full-Time Work — to Pay for a Congressional Raise. Most Members of Congress currently earn $165, 200. Based on the standard formula, they could get a 2% raise in 2007, brining them to $168,504 — an increase of $3,304. At the current rate, a worker making the minimum wage would have to work approximately 642 hours to make $3,304. That is a little over 16 weeks at 40 hours per week.

A Fair Increase in the Minimum Wage is Long Overdue. Congress and corporate executives continue to line their own pockets while ignoring the needs of the poorest Americans.

  • It’s been more than 9 years since minimum wage workers last saw an increase in their wages.
  • During those nine years, Congress has raised its own pay by $31,600. [CRS, “Salaries of Members of Congress,” 4/18/06]
  • Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have responded to this inexcusable inaction at the federal level by raising their minimum wages at the state level.
  • The average CEO now earns 821 times more than a minimum wage worker, earning more before lunchtime on his first day of work than a minimum wage worker earns all year. [EPI Economic Snapshots, “CEO-Minimum Wage Ratio Soars,” 6/27/06]

An Unacceptably Low Minimum Wage is a Key Part of the Problem of Poverty in our Nation.

  • The number of Americans in poverty has increased by 5.4 million since President Bush took office. [U.S. Census Bureau, 12/14/05]
  • 37 million Americans currently live in poverty, including 13 million children. [U.S. Census Bureau, 12/14/05]
  • Among full-time, year-round workers, poverty has increased by 50 percent since the late 1970s. [U.S. Census Bureau, 12/14/05]
  • Minimum wage employees working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year earn $10,700 per year, almost $6,000 below the federal poverty guidelines of $16,600 for a family of three. [U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 1/24/06]

Raising the Minimum Wage will Make a Significant Difference in the Lives of Working Families. Millions of hardworking Americans would benefit from a higher minimum wage.