Minimum wage laws set the lowest hourly rate an employer can legally pay workers covered under the law. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. Where states and municipalities have enacted their own, higher, minimum wage laws, employers must pay at least the state or local minimum. As of August 1, 2014, 23 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage.
This Policy Basic explains various aspects of the minimum wage, including:
- Who Is Covered by the Minimum Wage?
- Who Is Paid the Minimum Wage?
- History of the Minimum Wage
- Economic Effects of Raising the Minimum Wage
- Current Proposals
More: Economic Analyses
Welfare Reform at 18
Eighteen years ago, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant was created as a part of the 1996 welfare reform law to replace the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program.
Taking into account the full 18 years of TANF’s history, this chart book illustrates the following facts:
- Over time, TANF has provided basic cash assistance to fewer and fewer needy families, even when need has increased.
- During the recession and slow recovery, TANF served few families in need.
- The amount of cash assistance provided to families has eroded in almost every state, leaving families without sufficient funds to meet their most basic needs.
- TANF plays much less of a role in reducing poverty than AFDC did — and the provision of less cash assistance has contributed to an increase in deep or extreme poverty.
- Although a key focus of welfare reform was on increasing employment among cash assistance recipients, states spend little of their TANF funds to help improve recipients’ employability.
- Employment among single mothers increased in the 1990’s, but welfare reform was only one of several contributing factors — and most of the early gains have been lost. Read more
More: Welfare Reform Analyses
Understanding Poverty and the Safety Net
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan maintains that consolidating 11 safety-net and related programs into a single “Opportunity Grant” would give states the flexibility to provide specialized services to low-income people. But providing these additional services would require cutting assistanc funded through the Opportunity Grant to other needy people. And because SNAP (formerly food stamps) and housing assistance together make up more than 80 percent of the Oppoertunity Grant, the cuts would almost certainly reduce families’ access to these programs, which are effective at reducing poverty — particularly deep poverty. Read more
- History Suggests Ryan Block Grant Would Be Susceptible to Cuts
- Ryan’s Rhetoric Doesn’t Match His Proposal’s Reality
- Why Ryan’s Proposed Work Requirements Are Cause for Concern
- Greenstein: Ryan “Opportunity Grant” Proposal Would Likely Increase Poverty and Shrink Resources for Poverty Programs Over Time
- Ryan Adds Momentum to Expanding EITC for Childless Workers
- Ryan Roundup: What You Need to Know About Chairman Ryan’s Poverty Proposal
New From the Center
August 20, 2014
August 20, 2014
Updated August 18, 2014
August 13, 2014
Improving State Revenue Forecasting: Best Practices for a More Trusted and Reliable Revenue Estimate
Updated August 8, 2014
- View All
Center in the News
The Number Of Homeless Veterans Really Is Falling
August 27, 2014
August 22, 2014
Paul Ryan Recycles Weak Talking Point On Welfare Reform
August 20, 2014
Economic recovery marked by lower-paying jobs, analysis finds
Los Angeles Times
August 12, 2014
August 10, 2014
Nine myths about the social safety net, annotated