No question about it, minimum wage workers need a raise.
Increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016 would restore the federal minimum wage to about the same inflation-adjusted value it had in the late 1960s, just under $10 an hour. In 1968, the minimum wage was equal to 53 percent of the average wage. Today it equals just 37 percent of the average wage.
The $7.25 hourly wage that minimum wage workers are paid today equals about $15,080 a year. That's below the poverty line for a family of two. The minimum wage hasn't produced wages above the poverty line for a family of three since 1968.
Who earns the minimum wage?
* The average age of a minimum wage worker is 35. A third are 40 years of age or older.
* More than half, 54 percent, work full time. And minimum wage workers earn at least half of their family's total income.
* Women make up 55 percent of minimum wage earners.
* Increasing the hourly minimum wage to $10.10 would directly benefit 16.5 million workers and would lift nearly 1 million people out of poverty.
NJ CWAers Fight to Raise the Minimum Wage
The nationwide movement to raise the minimum wage played out in New Jersey last year.
New Jersey is one of the most expensive states in the country -- but its minimum wage was among the lowest in the United States. GOP Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the state legislature's bill to boost the minimum wage last year.
In response to the governor's veto, a campaign was launched to take the issue to the voters. CWA worked with the State AFL-CIO, NJ Citizen Action, SEIU Local 32 B-J, NJ Communities United, NJ United Students, Working Families, and DREAM Act coalition partners to get the issue placed on the November ballot. CWAers hit the streets to build support for the ballot measure to increase the state's minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour, and provide for an annual cost of living increase.
Though the business community put up a tough fight to defeat the measure, unions and allies waged a grassroots campaign that elected officials in New Jersey couldn't ignore. CWAers argued that it would be good for the economy -- giving working families more money to spend, putting those additional earnings back into their local communities. CWAers held rallies in cities across the state, ran phone banks, wrote letters to the editor, hosted house parties and canvassed neighborhoods all the way up until Election Day.
In November, voters overwhelmingly approved the minimum wage increase; it took effect in January 2014.