http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=16252 Minimum-Wage Hike Would Hurt Low-Wage Workers by Mike Franc Posted Jul 28, 2006 Thanks to a determined coalition of liberal Democrats and moderate Republicans, it is all but guaranteed that, shortly after its August recess, Congress will vote on Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D.-Mass.) proposal to boost the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour, an increase of 40%. An enduring urban legend about minimum-wage workers is that they are married adults struggling to raise children in Dickensian-style poverty. As Kennedy said in a recent Senate floor speech, “Minimum-wage workers are forced to make impossible choices between paying the rent and buying groceries, paying the heating bills or buying clothes.” Their families, he said, lack health care and adequate housing. Their “daily fear” is “poverty, hunger and homelessness.” The data, however, tell a very different story. While some minimum-wage workers are primary breadwinners raising young children, the overwhelming majority are either younger workers honing their skills in entry-level positions or part-time, mostly female workers from middle-class homes supplementing their spouse’s income. Only 1.9 million American workers (out of a total workforce of 127.4 million) earn the minimum wage. Most (63%) are women. More than half (53%) are between the ages of 16 and 24, and an even larger percentage (58%) work part-time. Upward mobility is the happy norm. Two out of three of today’s minimum-wage workers will earn 10% more within a year. Many are teenagers who live with their parents in middle-class homes. This explains why the average household income for minimum-wage earners is more than $40,000 a year and why only 19% (about 400,000 nationwide) fall below the poverty line. SNIP So what about that minimum-wage earner that Kennedy and his allies want to elevate above poverty? A family of four with an annual household income of $11,000 (equivalent to what a full-time minimum-wage job yields) could qualify for $33,000 in supplemental welfare benefits. Kennedy’s plan would, assuming no loss of employment, boost that family’s yearly paycheck to $15,000. But, due to the way benefits phase out as incomes rise, that family’s benefit package would decline to $7,000. Thus, total annual income—earned income plus welfare benefits—would actually fall by $3,000. Surely, reducing welfare assistance to half a million working poor families isn’t what the senator from Massachusetts had in mind.