There hasn't been an increase in the federal minimum wage in three years. The last increase, to $7.25/hour, was in 2009. Some states do pay more than that, but they aren't required to.
The National Employment Law Project (NELP) is working on a campaign to raise the minimum wage including:
- Restoring the value of the minimum wage
- Implementing cost-of-living increases
- Raising the minimum wages for workers who earn tips
- Closing loopholes that provide exemptions from the minimum wage
The third anniversary of the last increase, Tuesday, July 24th, is a "National Day of Action" calling for Congress to raise the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 to $9.80 by 2014, adjust it each year to keep up with the rising cost of living (as ten states already do), and raise the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.
NELP reports that most of the nation's largest low-wage employers - led by Walmart, McDonald's and Yum! Brands - have fully recovered from the recession and are now enjoying strong profits.
In addition, the majority of low-wage workers in the U.S. (66%) work for large corporations with more than 100 employees, rather than for small businesses. These companies, according to NELP, returned $174.8 billion to their shareholders over the past five fiscal years. The pay for the average CEO at the top low-wage employers was $9.4 million in the most recent fiscal year. For an average work week that's about $4520 per hour compared to $7.25/hour for a worker paid the minimum, and less for those in jobs where companies can pay less than minimum wage.