A dubious record was set in the US yesterday.
On Dec. 2, [the US will] break the record for the longest period without a raise since the minimum wage was established in 1938. The prior record of nine years and three months lasted from Jan. 1, 1981 until the minimum wage increase on Apr. 1, 1990.

Murray Weidenbaum, chairman of President Reagan's first Council of Economic Advisers, has acknowledged they wanted to eliminate the minimum wage. But as the Wall Street Journal reported, "Because that would have been such a 'painful political process,' Mr. Weidenbaum says that he and other officials were content to let inflation turn the minimum wage into 'an effective dead letter.'"

Today's minimum wage [$5.15] is less than the 1950 minimum of $6.28, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator. It takes nearly two workers to match the $9.28 buying power of one minimum wage worker in 1968.

. . . .

Democrats promise to pass a minimum wage hike in the first 100 hours of the new Congress. The long-delayed Fair Minimum Wage Act would raise the minimum wage in three steps to $5.85, 60 days after enactment, $6.55 one year later in 2008, and $7.25 one year later in 2009.

These are steps in the right direction for workers for whom every dollar counts in the struggle to make ends meet. But workers should not have to wait until 2009 for a $7.25 minimum wage that only partly restores buying power lost since 1968.

The Economic Policy Institute reports, "Most other developed countries either have implemented automatic increases based on rising prices or require regular meetings of boards authorized to increase the minimum wage" based on factors such as rising prices and economic growth.

Ireland and England have minimum wages over $10, calculated in U.S. dollars. Both countries have strong economies with lower unemployment rates in recent years than the United States.

Congress has had eight pay raises since 1997 and is scheduled for a $3,300 "cost of living adjustment," raising congressional pay on Jan. 1 to $168,500 -- not counting health coverage, pensions and other benefits. [Emphasis mine.]

Congress should refuse pay increases until the minimum wage is raised enough to keep workers out of poverty instead of in poverty.
Read more here, and see author Holly Sklar's website Let Justice Roll.

Here is the minimum wage in Canada, by province.

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