INTRODUCTION

Last week the Senate voted to reject a $1 increase in the federal hourly minimum wage. The vote fell along party lines, with Democrats voting in favor of the proposal and Republicans voting against it. Interview your classmates to find arguments for and against the proposed increase in the minimum wage. dollar

According to an MSNBC article Senator Kennedy, the originator of the proposal said, "Giving low-wage workers an additional 50 cents an hour can make all the difference. It can help to buy groceries or pay the rent or defray the cost of job-training courses at the local community college. The need is real. Raising the minimum wage can keep families out of soup kitchens and homeless shelters."

Opponents said an increase would hurt small businesses and cause unemployment.They said that increasing the minimum wage, "could actually have an adverse impact upon our economy" and could cause unemployment "that hurts the low-income workers the hardest." -Sen. Rod Grams, R-Minn., said before the vote.

PROCESS

Take a look at some historical data on the value of the Federal Minimum wage (adjusted for inflation) at the U.S. Department of Labor page named "Wage and Hour Division ."

  • What has the trend been for the last several years?

  • In what year was the real minimum wage the highest?

CONCLUSION

Based upon what you see in the chart:

  • Is an increase in the minimum wage justified? Explain.

Imagine that you are a U.S. senator:

  • How would you have voted? Why?

ASSESSMENT ACTIVITY


  1. What is the issue?
     
  2. Draw a supply and demand graph that illustrates the situation when a minimum wages is involved. Does the situation involve a price floor, a price ceiling, or neither?
     
  3. What broad social goals should you consider as you decide how to vote on this issue?
     
  4. What are some alternate means of achieving these goals?
     
  5. What are some advantages and disadvantages of each alternative? Be sure to consider who gains and who loses by each alternative.
     
  6. Would you vote to raise the minimum wage?