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Today the Minnesota House of Representatives is meeting to discuss raising the state minimum wage.  I’ve done some research and I’ll go over a little bit of history in terms of Minnesota’s minimum wage law, how it is applied, and what options are on the table for changing it.

As a teaser, here’s what some workers are paid in Minnesota, right now, and it it’s apparently ok…

$5.25 an hour

Minnesota first passed its minimum wage law in 1970’s and stayed on par with the Federal one, except that it has been stagnant for the last 10 or so years whereas the Federal limit has pulled ahead.  For those interested, I found a great historical chart provided by the department of labor that shows the historical trend for minimum wages in all of the states.

Minnesota’s current minimum wage is, in my opinion, a slap in the face of workers and I’ll explain why.  First, here is Minnesota’s minimum wage (for extra shock value I’ll put the monthly and yearly equivalent too):

For businesses with >$625,000 of annual revenue:
$6.25 hourly, $1083 monthly, $13000 yearly

For businesses with <$625,000 of annual revenue:
$5.25 hourly, $920 monthly, $10920 yearly

Personally, it’s the monthly amount that strikes home most for me.  I’m blessed to be employed and have a good paying job, but even I complain about money some times.  Trying to imagine surviving on that level of income is obviously laughable.  These are the people that are either working themselves to death with multiple jobs or whom we are subsidizing with aid programs so that they can survive each month.

But Russ, that doesn’t matter, right?  Surely the Federal minimum wage’s laughably small but still significantly higher rate supersedes Minnesota’s microscopically small one.

Don't call me Shirley.
Yes for the majority of cases the federal minimum wage does supersede the state one.  But the Federal minimum wage only applies to businesses which engage in interstate commerce or have >$500,000 dollars of annual revenue.  Therefore, there exists a small population of Minnesota residents who are working a full time job paying them $5.25 an hour.

Nine Hundred and Twenty Dollars a month.

Think about that for a minute – the rent on my apartment is more than $920 a month.  I probably spend more than $920 a month on stupid bullshit that I don’t need, much less vital things for my personal survival.

Here’s a helpful chart provided by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry that illustrates current state:

bask in its glory!
But there is some good news to end this diary with.  Currently the Minnesota House is debating over a number of different options for righting this injustice - and since Team Blue controls the House, Senate, and Governor's office in Minnesota, chances are we'll get something done - the only worry is how watered down the bill will be. On the table is raising the minimum wage to $9.00+ as well as indexing it to inflation.  If you live in Minnesota, please call/email/snail mail your representative and push for what could be a historic piece of legislation.

If you don't know who to contact, here is the Minnesota online district finder.

For those who want to know even more about the state of Minnesota employment and how the minimum wage applies to it, there is a great (though a bit dry) report produced by the Department of Labor and Industry, here.

Thanks for reading, and keep pushing for equity!

Originally posted to Russell Manning on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:13 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Invisible People.

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