In Raising Minimum Wage, Wal-Mart Joins Widening Group of Retailers, Cities and States [Interactive Explainer]

Walmart employees demonstrate outside a store in Pico Rivera, California in 2012.  (Courtesy of UFCW International Union)

Wal-Mart employees demonstrate outside a store in Pico Rivera, California in 2012. (Courtesy of UFCW International Union)

About half a million Wal-Mart employees are getting a much needed pay raise. Starting in April, full- and part-time U.S. employees of the company, the largest private employer in the nation, will earn at least $9 an hour, a full $1.75 more than the federal minimum wage, the company announced this week.

Wal-Mart, which has long been criticized by labor advocates for its low compensation rates, says hourly wages will rise to at least $10 by next year. It’s the latest in a series of large retailers who have recently moved to boost wages for their lowest paid employees. Last year Gap, Inc. announced a similar wage bump, joining the ranks of companies like Ikea, Whole Foods and Costco that all pay above the federal minimum.  Continue reading

A Half-Century After the March on Washington, Would King Be Satisfied?

Includes interactive charts and lesson plan

“What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter if you can’t afford to buy a hamburger?”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

[Jump to charts on where race gap has narrowed or widened]

In late August 1963, on the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, a quarter million demonstrators converged on the National Mall in the nation’s capital to partake in what would become one of the largest human rights demonstrations in United States history.

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On the Rise: How Minimum Wage Hikes Won Big with Voters [Interactive]

(View mobile version here)

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama urged Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, which has wallowed at $7.25 since 2007. But Congress didn’t budge, sidestepping the issue that has long been staunchly opposed by the Republican leadership.

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Time for A Raise? What You Need to Know About the Minimum Wage

Includes interactive explainer


Do America’s lowest wage earners deserve a raise?

As Congress again delves into the hotly contested perennial debate over raising the federal minimum wage, a growing number of states and cities throughout the country are forging their own paths on the issue, DoNowWagesImage resulting in an uneven national patchwork of wage laws. We dig into the debate over dollars and cents in this interactive explainer, produced by Newsbound. Scroll through the whole presentation at once, or choose specific chapters by selecting the table of contents button on the bottom left of the screen. Sources for each slide are also included at the bottom.

Relevant ELA and Social Studies CCSS Standards

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.7 Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.9: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.7: Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.

Integrate this topic into the following high school social studies units

US History
(based on:The American Vision, CA Edition (McGraw Hill/Glencoe, 2006)

• Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1933-1939

• The New Frontier and the Great Society, 1961-1968

• The Politics of Protest, 1960-1980

• Politics and Economics, 1971-1980

• Resurgence of Conservatism, 1980-1992

US Government
(based on: American Government, Prentice Hall, 2006, CA Edition)

• Unit 2 – Political Behavior: Government by the People

• Unit 3 – The Legislative Branch

• Unit 4 – The Executive Branch

• Unit 6 – Comparative Political and Economic Systems

(based on: Econ Alive! TCI, 2010)

• Unit 4 – Economics of the Public Sector

• Unit 5 – Measuring and Managing the Economy

For Minimum Wage Earners in California, the Promise of a Pay Raise

Includes interactive charts


California’s lowest-paid workers received some much welcomed news this week when state lawmakers approved a hotly contested bill to gradually bump up the minimum wage to $10 an hour.

The legislation, which Governor Jerry Brown has already promised to sign, will hike the state’s minimum wage to $9 by next July and $10 by January 2016, an increase of 25 percent. It’s the first statewide increase in six years, and will give California the highest minimum wage in the nation. Currently, Washington State leads the way, with a minimum wage of $9.19 an hour. California also trails Vermont and Oregon. Continue reading

Fast-Food Workers Fight for A Living Wage

Includes infographic and video

Steve Rhodes/Flickr

It turns out a lot of the workers who make Happy Meals aren’t actually all that happy about it.

It was a sentiment made abundantly clear in late August during a wave of one-day walkouts, in which thousands of fast-food workers around the country took to the streets to demand higher wages and the opportunity to join a union. Spurred by protests in New York that began last November, and supported by the Service Employees International Union, the demonstrations took place in front of about 1,000 restaurants — from McDonald’s and Burger King to Kentucky Fried Chicken and Subway — in 60 cities throughout the country. Continue reading

How Much Does it Really Cost to Live in California?

In order to pay for basic living expenses, a single California resident with no children would need to make, on average, roughly $11.20/hour.

That’s according to the Living Wage Calculator created by Amy K. Glasmeier, a professor of urban planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Below are estimates of how much each adult in various-sized households needs to make in order to pay for basic monthly living expenses. Keep in mind that these figures are estimated statewide averages. The actual cost of things in California, of course, varies significantly, by region. Whereas rent in Stockton may be lower than what’s shown here, San Francisco’s average rent is, well, fuggedaboutit!

All estimates below are based on Glasmeier’s calculator, which uses government data to estimate average living wage expenses for every state and county in the country.

As Glasmeier notes, consider results a minimum cost threshold, and likely an underestimate for metropolitan areas and other higher cost areas. Additionally, you many notice that households with two adults and children are listed as having lower costs than households with one adult and children. The discrepancy is due to child care costs: two adult households — with one sole earner — assume one adult stays home with the children.

(Additional methodology explained below charts)

Methodology (as explained by MIT’s Glasmeier):

The calculator lists typical expenses, the living wage and typical wages for the selected location … The tool is designed to provide a minimum estimate of the cost of living for low wage families. The estimates do not reflect a middle class standard of living. The realism of the estimates depend on the type of community under study. Metropolitan counties are typically locations of high cost. In such cases, the calculator is likely to underestimate costs such as housing and child care. Consider the results a minimum cost threshold that serves as a benchmark, but only that. Users can substitute local data when available to generate more nuanced estimates. Adjustments to account for local conditions will provide greater realism and potentially increase the accuracy of the tool. As developed, the tool is meant to provide one perspective on the cost of living in America.

Is It Time To Raise The Federal Minimum Wage?

Includes interactive maps, video, audio
Source: NPR

Source: NPR


Much of President Obama’s State of the Union address last Tuesday centered on the theme of boosting America’s dwindling middle class.

“It’s our generation’s task,” he implored, “to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth — a rising, thriving middle class.”

Among the more tangible policies mentioned that evening to further that objective,  the president proposed raising the federal minimum wage – from $7.25 per hour to $9 by the end of 2015 –  and provide for annual cost of living adjustments. (This would apply to most hourly jobs, with some exceptions, including some tip-based work.)

“Let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty,” he said. “Working folks shouldn’t have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up, while CEO pay has never been higher. So here’s an idea that Gov. Romney and I actually agreed on last year: Let’s tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.” Continue reading