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Katrina’s Victims and the Minimum Wage

News coverage of Katrina’s impact has raised public awareness of the especially harsh devastation the storm wrought for the many low-income families in its path, who now face the Herculean task of rebuilding their lives. At the same time, it has offered an important insight into the struggles that low-income families everywhere have to make ends meet.

One major contributor to these families’ hardships, wherever they make their home, has been the failure of Congress and the administration to make sure that the minimum wage keeps up with the rising cost of living. The federal minimum wage, which has stayed at $5.15 since it was last raised in 1996-1997, has less purchasing power now than it did in 49 of the last 50 years.

A proposal in Congress earlier this year would have raised the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. If Congress had acted on it, this increase would have directly benefited 491,000 workers in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana who are currently paid less than that amount. African-Americans, who are 27.5 percent of the total workforce, make up 45 percent of these 491,000 lowest-paid workers. The 491,000 workers are parents of about 310,000 children.

Another 356,000 workers earn less than $8.25 per hour–$1 more than what the new minimum wage would have been. Various studies of “spillover effects” find that many in this group would also have benefited from the rising tide created by a minimum wage increase. African-Americans make up 36 percent of this group. Workers in this group are the parents of about 206,000 children.

JEFF CHAPMAN is an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

 

 

 

 

CLARIFICATION

ALEXANDER COCKBURN, JEFFREY ST CLAIR, BECKY GRANT AND THE INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF JOURNALISTIC CLARITY, COUNTERPUNCH

We published an article entitled “A Saudiless Arabia” by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the “Article”), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, www.counterpunch.org (the “Website”).

Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.

As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi’s lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.

We are pleased to clarify the position.

August 17, 2005