New Poverty Report Underscores Need for Minimum Wage Increase

tavis talksA new report from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals that one in four people in the U.S. live in areas with a poverty rate of at least 20 percent. The report, titled Changes in Areas With Concentrated Poverty: 2000 to 2010, shows that the number of people living in poverty areas increased from 49.5 million (18.0 percent) in 2000 to 77.4 million (25.7 percent) in 2008 to 2012. Although minorities and households headed by single mothers were at the greatest risk of living in poverty, this report shows that the entire country was affected by the spike in poverty, regardless of race.

Clearly, more needs to be done to help the many Americans living in poverty and raising the minimum wage from the current federal rate of $7.25 to the proposed $10.10 per hour is a good place to start. According to Associate Professor of Economics at UMass Amherst Arin Dube, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would reduce the number of people living in poverty by 4.6 million.

Despite the numerous reports about the increase of poverty in the U.S. and academic research that shows that raising the minimum wage would reduce poverty, Senate Republicans have failed to advance legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and index it to inflation.  This is simply wrong, and 18 states from California to New Jersey have refused to sit by, raising their own minimum wage to levels higher than the federal rate.  But that’s not enough.  All Americans deserve a living wage, and this problem calls for a federal solution.  This is an election year, and the Retail Justice Alliance urges Senate Republicans to think about the many voters in their districts who are living in poverty and raise the minimum wage.