Minimum Wage

Policy Basics: The Minimum Wage

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

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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

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