On Friday, the federal minimum wage rises for the third year in a row, sparking the perennial argument among economists: Will it help workers at the bottom of the ladder, or will it kill their jobs?
The U.S. minimum wage goes to $7.25 an hour , from $6.55, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Most states have their own minimum wage, and employers are required to pay whichever is higher. That means minimum wage workers will get a raise in 29 states. In the remaining 21 states and Washington, D.C., they'll see no change, CNNMoney.com reports.
However, with the U.S. trillions of dollars in the hole, 70 cents an hour sounds like chump change. But it's a big boost for the millions of workers who earn that much extra as of July 24. The increase is the third and final uptick in a hike that has since 2007 boosted the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25. In total, the extra $2 and change translates into a yearly raise of some $4,400 for a full-time minimum-wage worker, nosing his or her family of four above the poverty line , TIME reports.
Meanwhile, Washington area economists say only a small number of businesses here are paying the minimum wage, largely because of the competition for good workers -- even on the lower end of the pay scale -- in a costly region.
"We try to pay a little higher [than minimum wage], trying to attract the best people that we can," said Richard Meddings, district manager of Flagship Carwash Center in the District and Maryland. He added that only "a handful" of his employees, mainly new hires, are paid $7 an hour, Washington Post reports.