Last year, the federal government strengthened its commitment to workers by increasing the minimum wage. This multi-stage federal minimum rate hike occurred, in large part, because inflation had eroded the value of the 1997 federal increase—leading to a tide of minimum wage increases across the states. On July 24, the federal minimum wage increases from $5.85 per hour to $6.55, but it will remain below the minimum rate in 23 states and the District of Columbia (see Map below). At the new federal level, a full-time, minimum-wage worker earns below the poverty line for a household of two. Even when it sees its final legislated increase to $7.25 next summer, the federal minimum wage will be below the minimum rate in at least 11 states and the District of Columbia. This reflects a stark reality in America: in the face of the rising cost of living for low-wage workers, the federal government is not guaranteeing a fair wage.
Workers across the United States are struggling to cope with rising household costs and an insufficient federal response. Many states are leading the charge to boost the minimum wage, but Congress must do more to provide a reasonable wage floor.

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