Good things are happening! The minimum wage is going up in dozens of states, and a fossil-fuel tycoon won’t get to limit free speech rights. Huge corporate banks are also seeing a flurry of local union activity, and thanks to government subsidies, EVs are more financially accessible than ever.

New Year, New Wages

Higher minimum wages, a result of ballot measures, legislation, and inflation adjustments, went into effect this week across 22 states. The new wage floor gives an economic boost to nearly 10 million workers, according to a recent estimate from the progressive think tank the Economic Policy Institute.

The group projects that higher baseline wages will deliver almost $7 billion in additional annual wages to millions of workers. And in three states with especially high costs of living — California, New York, and Washington — the increases will boost the baseline pay to at least $16 an hour. An additional 38 cities and counties will also increase their minimum wages, on top of state increases or in states where there were no adjustments.

The raises are sorely needed. The federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour hasn’t increased since 2009, the longest period it’s gone without an increase since the wage floor was established in 1938. As the cost of living, exacerbated by inflation, far outpaces income, the minimum wage has effectively become a poverty wage. At the current federal minimum wage, someone working 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year would make just $500 over the federal poverty threshold.

When businesses pay low wages, taxpayers make up the difference, helping people survive through government assistance programs. The Economic Policy Institute has also estimated that if the federal minimum wage increased to $15 by 2025, “annual government expenditures on major public assistance programs would fall by between $13.4 billion and $31.0 billion.” 

Call It A Bribe