Raise the Minimum Wage! It's a Matter of Justice [JustSouth E-Newsletter, February 2014]

By Fred Kammer, S.J.

 The minimum wage debate is hot.  The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 (FMWA) would raise the minimum from $7.25 to $10.10 over three years and then index it to inflation. Why?  The minimum wage has declined in value measured against inflation, average U.S. wages, U.S. productivity, and the poverty line.  A parent working full-time year-round at minimum wage cannot keep the smallest family (one parent, one child) above the poverty line. [1]

           Opponents claim that the number of minimum wage workers is small (3.7 million), most are young and part-time, and “relatively few of them live below the poverty line.”[2] The argument is misleading.  First, FMWA will affect not just current minimum wage workers, but 16.7 million workers earning less than $10.10.  Another 11.1 million workers would benefit indirectly from the “ripple effect” of employers adjusting overall pay ladders.  Of these 27.8 million, 55 percent are women, 88 percent are at least 20 years old, 54 percent work full-time, 26.5% are parents, and the average worker earns half of his or her family’s total income. [3]  Further, between 1979 and 2011, the “share of low-wage workers (those earning less than $10 per hour in 2011 dollars) aged 25 to 64 grew from 48 percent to 60 percent…”[4] MORE>>



An Introduction to Poverty and Measures of Poverty

By Fred Kammer, SJ

Poverty is one of the three focus areas for the work of JSRI. In their 1986 book-length pastoral letter Economic Justice for All the US Bishops reminded us of the importance of confronting poverty in these words: "Dealing with poverty is not a luxury to which our nation can attend when it finds the time and resources. Rather, it is a moral imperative of the highest priority."

But what does it mean to speak of poverty in the United States? Drawing on the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching, the bishops explained it this way, “By poverty, we are referring here to the lack of sufficient material resources required for a decent life.”  Then, in the next sentence, they acknowledge the complexity of the question, “We use the government’s definition of poverty, although we recognize its limits.” And a footnote introduces elements of the national debate about what we call “the poverty line.” [Continue on to MORE about measuring poverty and poverty in the Gulf South.]


Raise the Minimum Wage! It's a Matter of Justice-- Kammer

The Affordable Care Act- Who, Why, and What?-- Kammer

The Relentless Assault on America's Hungry-- Kammer 

Labor Day justice: What's the real cost of your cheap, fast food? --Kammer

Where are the Jobs? Continuing Unemployment and Worse-- Kammer

Taxing the Poor: The Regressive Nature of State-Local Tax Systems--Kammer

The Tax Deal... and More Coming Horrors--Kammer


Fiscal Cliff, Fiscal Slope, or the Common Good: The U.S. Debt and Deficit Crisis, Lame Ducks, and a New Responsibility--Kammer

Catholic Social Thought and Global Financial Systems--Kammer

21 Million Americans Kept Out of Poverty: Social Security critical to income of millions--Kammer

Catholic Social Thought and the Common Good--Kammer

Fairy-Tale or Worse? The Ryan-Romney Budget Plan and Catholic Moral Criteria--Kammer

Health Care Reform for Some: Governors play politics with health of low-income citizens -- Kammer

Does Relative Mobility "Cure" Inequality?--Kammer

Catholic Social Thought and Distributive Justice--Kammer

Growing Economic Inequality Matters!: Why People of Faith Should Be Concerned--Kammer

The Common Good and Election 2012: It’s not about my business, my taxes, or my family -- Kammer

The Payday Shark in Your Bank Account -- Mikulich

Catholicism and Capitalism -- Kammer

No Relief in Sight: Persistent High Unemployment for African Americans and Latinos in Gulf South States -- Mikulich

 View all Poverty articles »

Related links

Banner Image: Brenda Ann Keneally/AmericanPoverty.org