The federal minimum wage is regulated under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The current federal minimum wage for nonexempt employees, put into effect on July 24, 2009, is $7.25 per hour.1 Many states also have minimum wage laws. In these cases, the employee is entitled to the higher of the two minimum wages.1
14 states raised their minimum wages early in 2016, partially in response to nation-wide protests in 2014 and 2015.2 Arguments in favor of increasing the federal minimum wage include the current standard has not risen in pace with inflation, making it increasingly difficult for workers to survive economically, and raising the minimum wage would provide a boost to the economy as a result of minimum wage earners spending more money. Many pro-increase advocates, particularly from service and food unions, have demanded the minimum wage be increased to $15 per hour. Those against mandated increases argue that businesses will not be able to maintain their current workforce, leading to forced layoffs and greater unemployment, especially in economically depressed areas. Business owners would additionally have to pass the cost of higher wages on to the consumers, which could result in losses of sales and profit.
Should the federal minimum wage be increased to $12 per hour or higher?