Stevenson opinion article on minimum wage in Washington Post

April 5, 2013

The Washington Post published an op-ed by Betsey Stevenson, entitled "Five Myths about the Minimum Wage." The topic has been widely discussed since President Obama proposed increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 per hour in his February State of the Union Address. The article addresses several popular misconceptions about the minimum wage, beginning with the belief that minimum wage covers all employees.

"Those younger than 20 can be paid a sub-minimum wage of $4.25 for up to 90 days while these inexperienced workers learn the ropes," Stevenson writes. "And workers who receive more than $30 per month in tips are required to be paid only $2.13 per hour."

Stevenson also challenges the notion that the minimum wage is a static figure. "Because the cost of living is always rising, the value of a new minimum wage begins to fall from the moment it is set," she writes. "In fact, today's minimum wage of $7.25 buys less than the minimum wage did through all of the 1960s, 1970s, and much of the 1980s."

Ultimately, Stevenson suggests, periodic increases in the federal minimum wage are needed to support working families and combat inequality.

"Not only would raising the minimum wage reduce poverty," she writes, "but research has shown that erosion of the minimum wage leads to increases in inequality."