May 20, 2005 – Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) and Congressman George Miller (D-California) introduced legislation Wednesday to increase the national minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 by June 2007.
Supporters say the proposed Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2005 would help millions of American families and children -- particularly those in minority groups.
Since the current minimum wage was set in 1997, the value has actually dropped. During the same time, members of Congress have voted seven times to give themselves salary increases totaling nearly $30,000.
The Urban League pointed out that a parent working full time at the current minimum wage earns less than $11,000 a year -- which is $5,000 below the poverty line for a family of three. Additionally, while African Americans represent 11 percent of the total workforce, they represent 15.3 percent of workers who would be affected by such a raise in the minimum wage.
The Children's Defense Fund lauded lawmakers for introducing the measure, noting that the increase would mean an additional $364 per month for each minimum-wage earner, and could spare many families from having "to choose between paying the rent and putting food on the table."