The federal minimum wage increased 70 cents today, from $5.15 to $5.85 an hour. It’s the first of three wage hikes that will boost the minimum wage to $7.25 in July of 2009. Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack voted for the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which became law on May 25th.
The Democrat from Mount Vernon calls today’s raise "the first step in restoring the American dream." Loebsack calls the minimum wage hike a "down payment for hard working American families." He’s hoping Congress can now work on making college more affordable, reducing energy costs, expanding health care coverage for children, and providing tax breaks for middle to low income families.
Today’s 70 cent hike will provide a minimum wage earner with roughly $1,500 more a year in income, but still leave them $4,500 below the poverty level. Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell , from Des Moines, also voted for the wage increase. He says it’s better than nothing.
"You got to take what you can get," Boswell says, "and although we’d like to have the whole loaf of bread, we’ll take these slices now. That’s the way it’s structured."
The federal increase won’t impact the state as Iowa’s minimum wage is above the federal level. State lawmakers passed a wage hike that currently places Iowa’s mandated minimum wage at $6.20 an hour.