I wrote an essay on this subject back in January 2017. After reading a recent article on the “Pros and Cons of Raising the Federal Minimum Wage” in the Albuquerque Journal, I decided to explain how it can be fixed by law long-term.
My approach is using data available from the U.S. Department of Labor. The benchmark used is the yearly “family median wage.”
We then base the federal minimum wage at 50 percent of the family median wage. Using that median wage and averaging the amount for the last four years, you initiate the new updated federal minimum wage on Jan. 1 the next year.
My calculations using the family median wage for 2012-15, the new federal minimum wage came to $12.79. For tipped employees, you take 25 percent of $12.79 which is $3.20.
Now, for this idea to be implemented by law, the U.S. Congress would have to pass it and it would have to be signed by the president. Knowing our Congress at this point in time, I believe it will not come to pass any time soon or ever.
We still have states, cities and counties around the country changing their version of a minimum wage.
Many have done so already, knowing that the present federal minimum wage of $7.25 is unacceptable.
The term “median” as it relates to household income is the point that divides the household income distribution into halves, one half with income above the median and the other below the median.
The median is based on the income distribution of all households including those with no income.
This same idea can also be used at the state level, using information from the Department of Labor.
My calculation for New Mexico for the same years was $10.75 and for tipped employees, $2.68.
Going forward, this issue of raising the federal minimum wage will perhaps be difficult for Congress to do on a long-term basis. If it could happen, then Congress would never have to address the issue again.
The data from the Department of Labor would automatically adjust the minimum wage every five years.
In conclusion, what I am proposing is what I consider a fair and just way in updating the federal minimum wage in a long-term ongoing process.
I do understand that this issue will always be brought on by those who are in favor of increasing the federal minimum wage and those who are not. So, what I am writing is food for thought and that is what it will be good for.
Thomas E. Carter