July 10, 2009

Beyond Bread: Minimum Wage Increases

~HUD’s annual report to Congress released yesterday documents no major changes in the number of homeless people in the United States since 2007 but a change in the makeup of that demographic. The report notes an increase of nine percent in homeless families seeking shelter and “more demand for transitional housing in the suburbs and in rural areas of the country.”

~The federal minimum wage is set to increase to $7.25 an hour from the current $6.55 an hour on July 24th. While many people advocate this wage increase as a way to relieve economic stresses related to the recession, “At $7.25 an hour, a full-time worker earns $15,080. At the nationwide work week average of 33 hours, the worker would earn $12,441. The U.S. government sets the poverty level at $10,830 for one person or $22,050 for a family of four in the lower 48 states and D.C.” This pay increase may prove to make it easier for minimum wage workers to rise above the poverty line but won’t necessarily make it easier to live, as those making more money may not qualify for certain welfare benefits.

~Bread for the City’s cucumber sorting trip was mentioned on the Wasted Food blog this past week, drawing attention to how our American focus on aesthetics has contributed to food waste.

~In case you didn’t get a chance to read through Joni's post on the budget deficit that DC is facing, here is the issue in brief. DC is facing a $190 million dollar shortfall for this fiscal year and a projected deficit of $150 million next year, and the Mayor's Office is working on a proposal to close this deficit. We want to make sure Mayor Fenty continues to fund a strong safety net for DC’s vulnerable residents and that programs that help those in need don't get cut!


Anonymous said...

What you say about the minimum wage just underscores the major flaws in the federal poverty measure. Here in D.C., the minimum wage will increase to $8.25 an hour. So someone working full-time would earn about $17,160 a year. To put this in perspective the estimated basic living costs for a D.C. family of four were about $67,652 in 2008.

A couple of months ago, I did a posting about the federal poverty measure and proposals to change it (http://povertyandpolicy.wordpress.com/2009/03/15/how-many-poor-people-are-there-in-america). Since then, the legislation I referred to has been reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, and I understand a companion bill will soon be introduced in the Senate.

Unfortunately, the bills would not change the measure used to calculate federal benefits. But they would be a first step.

Matt Siemer said...

Hi Kathryn,

Thanks for the insight! Do you know the number of the House bill?