Living wage: Senators ignore the plight of low-paid workers

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Shamefully, the Senate last week blocked a measure that would, over three years, increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. The losers are the nation’s workers, especially those struggling to make ends meet.

Supporters should reintroduce the plan soon. The Senate action should spur more young, low-income and minority voters to show up at this year’s elections.

Congress last raised the minimum wage in 2009. Had it been adjusted for inflation over the past 40 years, it now would exceed $10 an hour — the minimum many researchers say single adults need to support themselves.

Polls show Americans strongly support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. A Bloomberg survey last month found 69 percent backed the move.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office calculates that raising the wage to $10.10 an hour would lift the hourly wages of 16.5 million workers and boost incomes by $2 billion. Studies conclude that up to 4.6 million workers would rise above the poverty line.

Republicans conveniently omit those calculations when citing CBO estimates projecting a possible loss of 500,000 jobs nationwide. Such estimates are shaky at best, and previous increases in the federal minimum wage have had a negligible effect on the number of jobs.

Americans consider a living wage a matter of basic fairness. It’s a shame their elected representatives don’t feel the same way.

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