Public Assets Institute > Policy Areas > Family Economic Security > Raising Restoring the Minimum Wage

Raising Restoring the Minimum Wage

The Vermont Legislature is getting—and taking—credit for raising the state minimum wage this session. It’s true that over the next four years, the rate will gradually rise to $10.50 an hour, $1 an hour more than the rate was projected to rise if the Legislature had done nothing. Nevertheless, it’s more accurate to describe what the Legislature did this year as restoring the minimum wage. By 2018, Vermont’s minimum wage almost will have the same buying power it had 50 years earlier, in 1968.

Since 2007, Vermont has tied the minimum wage to inflation. This cost-of-living increase prevents low-wage workers from falling further behind, but it hasn’t helped them get ahead or even make up for lost ground. And prior to 2007, low-wage workers did lose ground. Periodically, the Legislature raised the statutory minimum, but those increases didn’t keep pace with the rising cost of living.

Vermont needed a meaningful increase in the minimum wage, one that would begin to close the gap between what low-wage employers pay and what families actually need to live on. Raising the minimum wage can’t close the entire gap, but policy makers have to do better than a $1-an-hour raise if they are serious about addressing income inequality in this state.

With a minimum wage increase that does more than catch up with inflation and an increase in the earned income tax credit, Vermont could get closer to becoming a state where full-time work actually paid enough to support a family and meet its basic needs.

That would be worthy of getting—and taking—credit.

Posted by Jack Hoffman on May 15, 2014 at 11:49 am

One Response to “Raising Restoring the Minimum Wage”

  1. Lois Whitmore says:

    I agree. I recommend the included video for its comments by David Rolf, a forty year old leader of SEIU in Seattle, who spokein April 2014 at the summit on Medicare Advocacy, around a systemic response to a living wage and care for the living as being essential corrollaries. I notice that DAIL bemoans the lack of workers for an increasing aging population, and Labor bemoans a lack of workers( that companies are unwilling to invest in –the undereducated, the disabled, the older workers and workers with children but not enough money to cover childcare as not being businesses problem( though they are willing enough to profit from them.
    The state’s cutback on childcare subsidies, the lack of a liveable wage as a minimum wage, the lack of affordable housing, and the subsidy of big corporations who play one state off against another without paying state or federal tax( see Bernie’s website for the top ten, some of which Vermont subsidizes through economic development grants) is shortsighted, exploitative, and will ultimately cost taxpayers more by shifting costs to medicaid, criminal justice, food and heat and housing subsidies et al. seattle campaign for $15.00 hr David Roth.