LJR and Other Publications

If the current minimum wage had kept up with inflation since its peak in 1968, the federal minimum wage would now be $10.75 an hour. And if the minimum wage had grown along with workers' productivity, it would be as high as $17.19 today. Also, today's low-wage workers are older and better educated than in the past.

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Center for Economic and Policy Research
In her Congressional testimony from 1959, Eleanor Roosevelt noted the repetitive quality of objections raised by minimum wage opponents over the previous five decades. More than 50 years later, it appears that nothing has changed.

This report documents the rhetorical onslaught launched by minimum wage opponents over the past 100 years. Rather than approaching these claims at face value, we step back and review how minimum wage opponents have presented their case through roughly a century’s worth of public statements, congressional testimonies, editorials, media interviews, and other public records, devoting a critical eye to the trajectory of these criticisms over time.

National Employment Law Project and Cry Wolf Project
America’s low-wage economy is marked by two extremes. On the one hand, workers earning at or near the minimum wage are seeing the real value of their paychecks diminish steadily over time, as the cost of living increases while their wages remain stagnant. After nearly half a century of neglect, today’s federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is decades out of date. In terms of purchasing power, its value is 30 percent lower today than it was in 1968.

On the other hand, many corporations are posting record-breaking profits. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that, after sinking from 2007 to 2009, corporate profits had successfully caught up to their pre- recession peak by the beginning of 2010 – and that by the third quarter of 2011, total profits for U.S. corporations reached a new record high of $1.97 trillion.

This report examines the connection between these opposing extremes of stagnant wages and soaring corporate profits. While a great deal of attention has been directed at the role of Wall Street and the financial sector in driving economic inequality in the U.S., it is important to recognize that the top low-wage employers also bear responsibility for the growing disparity between corporate profits and worker compensation.

The central finding of this report is that the majority of America’s lowest-paid workers are employed by large corporations, not small businesses, and that most of the largest low-wage employers have recovered from the recession and are in a strong financial position.
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National Employment Law Project
New National Diners’ Guide from Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC) spotlights wage, benefits and promotion practices of the 150 most popular restaurants. Lists "responsible restaurants where you can eat knowing that your server can afford to pay the rent and your cook isn’t working while sick."

Download the Diners’ Guide, the Consumer Toolkit for Spreading the Word, and Tip Cards about the Diners’ Guide to hand out to restaurant owners and workers when you go out to eat.
See chart with summary of local living wage ordinances and links. Total: 123 as of 12/6/10, not including repealed.
National Employment Law Project
Updated / Summary
  • The federal minimum wage was enacted during the Great Depression to promote economic recovery.
  • The long-term fall in worker buying power is a key reason we are in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
  • Raising the minimum wage boosts consumer purchasing power and economic recovery.
  • Raising the minimum wage does not increase unemployment in good times or bad.
  • Raise the floor to lift the economy.
  • Let Justice Roll
    Raising the minimum wage does not increase unemployment in good times or bad.

    Extensive research refutes the claim that increasing the minimum wage causes increased unemployment and business closures.
    Let Justice Roll


    • Recent minimum wage raises are too little, too late.
    • The minimum wage is a poverty wage instead of an anti-poverty wage.
    • The minimum wage sets the wage floor. A low minimum wage institutionalizes an increasingly low-wage workforce.
    • A low minimum wage reinforces a growing gap between haves and have-nots.
    • Workers are also consumers. The long-term fall in worker buying power is one reason we are in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
    • Raising the minimum wage lifts workers, business and the economy.
    • $10 in 2010 will break the cycle of too little, too late raises.
    • $10 in 2010 will make up ground lost in minimum wage buying power since 1968.
    • $10 in 2010 will bring us closer to the Fair Labor Standards Act “minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency and general well-being of workers.”
    • $10 in 2010 will strengthen the eroded foundation under our families, communities and economy.
    • A job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you in it.

    Let Justice Roll
    Three-step increase in the minimum wage is adding billions of dollars to consumer spending and stimulating the economy.
    Economic Policy Institute
    Resources for Living Wage Worship Services and Community Events, 3rd edition, is a comprehensive tool kit for congregations and community organizations. Contents include:
    • Steps for organizing a living wage service or community event
    • Organizing/advocacy tools for minimum wage and living wage
    • Readings, prayers and handouts from various faith traditions
    • Working Family testimonials and Business Voices
    • Sample Op-Eds and Letters to the Editor
    • Fact sheets, charts, quotable quotes and much more
    Let Justice Roll

    Makes a powerful economic and ethical case for raising the minimum wage and moving the United States from a low-road economy to the high road. Counters all the arguments against raising the minimum and offers vital insight into why the minimum wage is so important.

    Let Justice Roll