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Debate rages on minimum wage hikes

There's no shortage of opinion on whether the raise in federal minimum wage is a godsend, or about to drive the country deeper into recession. Here's a sampling of analysis available this week from various quarters on the topic:

Here's the Dallas Fed Bank's "Higher Minimum Wage Looms Large in Texas" article last year, which essentially comes down the middle on the issue.

From the Economic Policy Institute: "Even with this latest increase, workers making minimum wage today are earning about 18 percent less than in 1968," And, "minimum wage increases stimulate the Waistre economy through increased consumer spending."

From the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas: "Today's increase in the minimum wage will discourage employment growth even more than expected, mainly because of the impact of health care costs."

From letjusticeroll.org, which is campaigning for Congress to raise the minimum wage base for tipped workers to $3.75 per hour from $2.13, where it's been "frozen" since 1991: "Tipped workers, such as restaurant servers, delivery workers and others will benefit from the July 24 increase, because base pay plus tips must add up to the minimum wage or else employers must make up the difference. But too many managers take advantage of workers by illegally underpaying them." Here's a report from the National Employment Law Project on tipped workers' and their wages. 

From the National Small Business Administration: "Amid a tight labor market, most owners were already paying higher-than-required wages to attract and retain workers, even entry-level ones. However, economic conditions are quite different today than they were only two short years ago. Unemployment has increase for nine months straight...Throwing a minimum wage hike into the mix could hurt."

Wondering how much income you need to stay above poverty in America?

Here's the Poverty in America Living Wage Calculator from Penn State University. You can get their researchers' estimate on what it costs to make ends meet in Tarrant County.

Finally, here's the Bureau of Labor Statistics "Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers: 2008" report.

- Scott Nishimura, jobs and workplace reporter, Star-Telegram 


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