The Common Good
July 2006

Making a Living

by James Ferguson | July 2006

The federal minimum wage was last raised in 1997 to its current level of $5.15 an hour. There are now 20 states that have raised the minimum wage above the federal level.

The federal minimum wage was last raised in 1997 to its current level of $5.15 an hour. There are now 20 states that have raised the minimum wage above the federal level. Nevada will put the question to its voters this fall, and the minimum wage issue could be a significant factor in a number of gubernatorial races. What will it take to make work “work” for the majority of Americans?

• 83 percent of Americans favor raising the federal minimum wage to $7.15.

• 10 states have raised the minimum wage $2 or more above the federal level.

• 76 percent of those earning a household income of $75,000 or more favor raising the minimum wage by $2.

• $19,157 is the federal poverty level for a family of two adults and two children.

• $9 to $9.50 an hour, for 40 hours a week, is the wage needed for a single adult (supporting another adult and two children) to reach the federal poverty level.

• $8,300 an hour was the wage for the CEO of Halliburton in 2005.

Sources: “Wages, Gay Marriage Could Tilt ’06 Ballot,” by Mark K. Matthews (www.stateline.org); “Maximum Support for Raising the Minimum” (Pew Research Center for the People and the Press); “$13,700 an Hour,” by Katrina Vanden Heuvel (The Nation); U.S. Census Bureau 2005 Annual Social and Economic Supplement.

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