10 States To Increase Minimum Wage On New Year’s Day


— by Keystone Research Center

HARRISBURG, PA – The minimum wage will increase in 10 states on Jan. 1, modestly boosting the incomes of nearly 1 million low-paid workers in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

The minimum wage rates in those states will rise between 10 and 35 cents per hour, resulting in an extra $190 to $510 per year for the average directly-affected worker. Rhode Island’s minimum wage will rise as a result of a law signed by Gov. Lincoln Chafee in June; the remaining nine states will raise their minimum wages in accordance with state laws requiring automatic annual adjustments to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

More after the jump.

Pennsylvania minimum-wage workers haven’t seen a meaningful increase since 2007, during which time the buying power of the minimum wage has fallen 10%, said Dr. Stephen Herzenberg, an economist with the Keystone Research Center. A minimum wage increase that would boost consumer spending is especially needed because of Pennsylvania’s recent lagging job-growth performance. Pennsylvania also needs a minimum-wage hike because it is among the states with the fast-growing income inequality.

Herzenberg also recommended that the state’s minimum wage be set to increase automatically each year to offset the impact of inflation, as Pennsylvania legislator salaries already do.

In the 10 states with minimum wage increases already on the books, the hikes will boost consumer spending, hence GDP, by over $183 million, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute. While weak consumer demand continues to hold back business expansion, raising the minimum wage puts more money in the pockets of low-wage workers who often have no choice but to immediately spend their increased earnings on basic expenses.

We need policies that make sure workers earn wages that will at the very least support their basic needs, said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. But earning an income that meets basic needs shouldn’t depend on the state where a working family lives. We need to raise and index the federal minimum wage to help all of America’s workers.

The 10 state-level minimum wage increases scheduled for Jan. 1 will benefit a total of 995,000 low-paid workers: approximately 855,000 workers will be directly affected as the new minimum wage rates will exceed their current hourly pay, while another 140,000 workers will receive an indirect raise as pay scales are adjusted upward to reflect the new minimum wage, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Seventy-one percent of these low-wage workers are adults over the age of 20, and 69 percent work 20 hours per week or more.

As of Jan. 1, 2013, 19 states plus the District of Columbia will have minimum wage rates above the federal level of $7.25 per hour, which translates to just over $15,000 per year for a full-time minimum wage earner. Ten states also adjust their minimum wages annually to keep pace with the rising cost of living – a key policy reform known as “indexing” – to ensure that real wages for the lowest-paid workers do not fall even further behind: these states include Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Nevada has not scheduled a cost-of-living adjustment to take effect this year.

Because the federal minimum wage is not indexed to rise automatically with inflation, its real value erodes every year unless Congress approves an increase. Without further action from Congress, the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour will lose nearly 20 percent of its real value over the next 10 years and have the purchasing power of only $5.99 in today’s dollars, according to a new data brief by the National Employment Law Project. The federal minimum wage would be $10.58 today if it had kept pace with the rising cost of living since its purchasing power peaked in 1968.


Rhode Island is this year’s greatest minimum wage raiser

The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012, introduced in July by U.S. Senator Tom Harkin and Representative George Miller, would help recover much of this lost value by raising the federal minimum wage to $9.80 by 2014 and adjusting it annually to keep pace with the cost of living in subsequent years. The Fair Minimum Wage Act would also raise the minimum wage for tipped workers from its current rate of just $2.13 per hour, where it has been frozen since 1991, to $6.85 over five years. Thereafter, it would be fixed at 70 percent of the full minimum wage.

A large body of research shows that raising the minimum wage is an effective way to boost the incomes of low-paid workers without reducing employment. A groundbreaking 1994 study by David Card and Alan Krueger, current chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, found that an increase in New Jersey’s minimum wage did not reduce employment among fast-food restaurants. These findings have been confirmed by 15 years of economic research, including a 2010 study published in the Review of Economics and Statistics that analyzed data from more than 500 counties and found that minimum wage increases did not cost jobs. Another recent study published in April 2011 in the journal Industrial Relations found that even during times of high unemployment, minimum wage increases did not lead to job loss.

A recent report by the National Employment Law Project found that 66 percent of low-wage employees work for large companies, not small businesses, and that more than 70 percent of the biggest low-wage employers have fully recovered from the recession and are enjoying strong profits. An August NELP study showed that while the majority of jobs lost during the recession were in middle-wage occupations, 58 percent of those created in the post-recession recovery have been low-wage occupations. That shift towards low-wage jobs is a 30-year trend that is only accelerating, according to a recent report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Exit Polls of the Jewish Vote

A Century of Jewish Voting in America

One silver lining in the election for the Republicans was the Jewish Vote. Romney was supported by 30% of American Jews in this election, compared to 69% for Obama. Traditionally, Jewish voters lean Democratic and the last Republican to do this well was George Herbert Walker Bush in 1988 with 35% of the vote.

Three Organizations, Three Polls, Similar Results

The Associated Press’s National Exit poll this year was based on a survey of 26,565 voters including 4,408 who voted early or absentee. Only 2% of these voters were Jewish, so the sampling error on the Jewish vote is plus or minus 4.3%.

J-Street which describes itself as “the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans fighting for the future of Israel as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people” did their own surveys.

JStreet notes that “President Obama’s 70% share of Jewish voters lines up exactly with the historic trend of support that Democratic Presidential candidates have received in the last 10 elections.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition’s survey shows similar results:

The survey, a national sample of 1000 Jewish voters, as well as a 600-person sample of Jewish voters in Ohio and a 600-person sample of Florida Jewish voters, shows Jewish support for the President dropped from 78% in 2008 to 69% last night.

The Republican share of the Jewish voted jumped nationally from 22 percent to 32 percent — an increase of almost 50 percent — and is part of a trend in which Republicans have gained market share among Jewish voters in five of the last six national elections. The ten-point gain is the largest gain since 1972.

“The RJC is encouraged by the gains we made in 2012 and by the continuing movement in the Jewish community toward the GOP. Despite the discouraging election results, we’re pleased by the gains we have made in the Jewish community,” said Matt Brooks.

It could have been worse

According to JStreet, “Tens of millions of dollars spent by Sheldon Adelson, the RJC, and others attacking President Obama on Israel backfired – 27% of Florida Jews said the ads made them more likely to vote for the President, and 63% said the attacks made no difference whatsoever.”

In fact, a survey of Jewish voters in Florida conducted by the Mellman Group around Labor Day showed Obama’s support as low as 61%.

This newly-released information shows the dramatic improvement in Obama’s Jewish vote performance in Florida between late September (then 61% for Obama, 33% for Romney) and Election Day (currently 68% for Obama in Florida, according to GBA Strategies; 66% for Obama in Florida, according to the AP exit poll). The shift during that 5-7 week period amounted to a shift in favor of the President’s Jewish vote margin of as much as 117,000 votes — a tremendous victory for NJDC’s targeted, strategic voter contact effort in Florida, and a mass rejection of the smear campaign waged by Republican Jewish groups.

In other words, Obama gained ground even as the RJC spent over eight million dollars on their “Buyers Remorse” advertising campaign.

National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC)  President and CEO David A. Harris commented:

Knowing what we know of the state of the Jewish vote in late September, we are tremendously proud of what NJDC and our friends were able to do to put facts into the hands of so many Jewish Florida voters to make sure they were not taken in by this multi-million dollar effort of lies and smears against our President. We now know that over six weeks, a shift in the Jewish margin from Democrats to Republicans of up to 117,000 Jewish Floridians was stopped with the facts — plain and simple. NJDC mailed almost 400,000 pieces of fact-based mail into Florida in the final weeks of this campaign, and we called almost 70,000 Jewish households in Florida — all strategically, efficiently targeted at those persuadable Jews who could possibly fall victim to the smears circulated against the President. During that same time we ran print ads in Florida, and online banner ads, sponsored emails, and more — most only visible to residents in Florida, some only visible to carefully targeted, potentially undecided Jewish households. Through social media efforts and newly-unveiled websites and crucial web videos as well in the final days before Election Day, we powerfully targeted these undecided Florida Jews.

These were just some of the pieces in our strategic arsenal. But seeing the data today from GBA Strategies and the AP exit polls, and looking back at the data we were privy to 5-7 weeks ago from The Mellman Group, we can now say authoritatively that our work made a tremendous difference; we helped Florida’s Jews have the facts they needed to reject the lies and distortions being peddled by Republican Jews. The same can be said in Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin — the other battleground states where NJDC waged a carefully-targeted campaign. Following our efficient, strategic effort, we’re thrilled with the results: an overwhelming majority of American Jews have once again supported President Obama, and they have overwhelmingly rejected the campaign of smears and lies from the right.

PA Jewish Teens Campaign In Ohio For Romney, Obama

Pennsylvania teens too young to vote are voicing their opinions
Nearly 100 Jewish teens go to Ohio to participate in the Election

— by Carly Lundy Schacknies

They can’t yet cast a ballot, but that isn’t stopping Claire Akers, Jessica Cohen, Rachel Ellis, Hannah Frank, Kassidy Garcia, Emily Gorby, Micah Rabin, Danielle Salisbury, and Jeremy Witchel from Pittsburgh, Jack Mangurten from New Kensington, Marissa Snyder from Upper Saint Clair, Ellie Sullum from Clark Summit, and Johanna Ure from Wyomissing and the nearly 100 Jewish teen leaders from across the country from getting involved in the political process on November 5 – 7, 2012.  They are attending BBYO, Inc’s program, Voice Your Vote: An Issue Summit on the 2012 Election and Civic Responsibility, in Cleveland, Ohio.

On Election Day, the teens will choose their preferred candidate and will hit the campaign trail to advocate.  BBYO has worked with the Romney Ryan and Obama Biden campaigns to assign the teens to some of Cleveland’s busiest polling locations.  

More after the jump.
The Summit participants are members of BBYO’s high school leadership programs AZA (for young men) and BBG (for young women) and the Bukharian Teen Lounge in New York.  In Cleveland, the teens will learn about the issues being debated in this election cycle through a series of bipartisan learning sessions.  They will hear from guest speaker Frankie Goldberg, a Cleveland Juvenile Court Judge Candidate and BBYO alumna, and BBYO’s Jewish educators about how they can continue to be involved in the political process while maintaining their Jewish values.

“It’s so important that today’s young people understand how to approach the political landscape and the responsibility to do advocacy while staying true to their Jewish values,” said Aleeza Lubin, BBYO’s Director of Jewish Enrichment for the Midwest states.

As the results come in, the teens will watch and tally towards 270 at their own Election Night Watch Party.  They will also connect live with their peers at BBYO’s other community watch parties in Washington, DC, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Pittsburgh and Westchester, NY.  The community events are all open to the entire community and feature partnerships with local youth movements NCSY, NFTY, USY, as well as HEA Youth Programs, Jewish Student Connection, and CAJE.

BBYO’s programming is teen inspired and led, and the summit is no different.  Sofie Jacobs, 16 years old, from Rockville, MD, Sierra Lash,16 years old, from Oakland, CA , Brad Honigberg, 17 years old, from Mequon, WI, and Gary Levine, 16 years old, from Dallas, TX, AZA and BBG members who are serving as program coordinators will facilitate, with staff support, a variety of sessions during the Summit.  

“People think that teens don’t care about politics, but they’re wrong.  We care about having an active role in our future and this is a great opportunity to not only witness, but also shape history,” said Sofie Jacobs.

Before returning home, teens will learn how they can continue to stay involved in the civic and political process.

Republican Jewish Coalition Mobilizes in Philly, Boca & Cleveland

The Republican Jewish Coalition flew and bused volunteers to campaign yesterday Sunday, September 9 and today Monday, September 10 in three metropolitan areas:

  • Philadelphia and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
  • South-Eastern Florida, and
  • Cleveland, Ohio.

Ron Kampeas reports that this is part of a $6,500,000 microtargeting campaign funded in part by gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson (pictured right at the RJC “Friends of Israel” reception at the Republican National Convention).

Ohio (1.3% Jewish) and Florida (3.4% Jewish) are once again battleground states and are being hotly contested by the Romney and Obama campaigns. Pennsylvania (2.3% Jewish) has traditionally been a swing state, but lately it has been considered fairly safe for the Democrats, and accordingly Mitt Romney, Karl Rove and the Koch brothers’ Super-PACs “Restore Our Future”, “Crossroads GPS” and “Americans for Prosperity” all announced last week that they were pulling out of Pennsylvania and Michigan and concentrating their ad buys on more competitive states. We asked the RJC why they were skipping Nevada which is a very competitive state with a 2.8% Jewish population the most of any swing-state other than Florida, but Stu Sandler and Bill Wanger had no comment. (See comment posted below.)

The RJC invited us to observe their outreach effort in work in our area. Local members of the RJC were joined by supporters bused in from Bethesda, Maryland and the New York area. Some volunteers flew in from as far away as California.  In all about 400 Republicans were assembled at the Radisson Valley Forge Casino Resort.

During the breakfast, RJC leaders and volunteers were all eager to share the views with us. One deplored a “certain strain of the Jewish community that cares more about the Democratic party than about Israel.” I asked if she was referring to extreme elements of the grassroots or about any particular elected officials, and she cited Rep. Alysson Schwartz as an example saying

Allyson Schwartz will be a Democrat [sic] believer until the day she dies even if they start wearing brown shirts

(a reference to the color of the uniforms of the Strumabteilung which played a key role in Adolf Hitler’s rise to power). Other members of the crowd echoed Lynne’s contempt for the Democratic Congresswomen and cited DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Former Rep. Robert Wexler, Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach, and Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro as “traitor to their faith.”

I discussed the Democratic and Republican party platforms with Lynne Lechter, Republican Committeewoman in Lower Merion and former candidate for the Pennsylvania Assembly (shown right at the National Women’s Committee of the RJC at the Green Valley County Club in 2009). Asked about the Republican platform which echoes Rep. Todd Akin’s support for a blanket ban on abortions without any exception for rape or incest, Ms. Lechter said that to her “platforms are not relevent. People don’t always agree with everything in the platform.” However, she felt that the original Democratic platform “underscored the hatred of Democrats for religion and Israel.”

More after the jump.

The volunteers were assembled into teams some for phone banking, literature drops and strategic sign waving.

  • Vans brought the RJC volunteers to various neighborhoods. Media from the Philadelphia Jewish Voice, the Jewish Exponent, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the New Jersey Jewish News were taken to an affluent Jewish neighborhood in Gladwynne where we watched as a pair of volunteers left campaign brochures at the front door of each targeted home. They were instructed not to knock  or interact with voters, but simply to leave their literature and move on. The RJC began canvassing neighborhoods for the first time during the 2008 election. However, Stu Sandler said this outreach effort is larger and better targeted than their 2008 canvassing.
  • Other volunteers were assigned to “strategic sign waving.” For example, a pair of RJC volunteers was stationed outside the Obama for America office at 1 E. Lancaster Avenue in Ardmore, PA waving signs reading “Oy vay, Obama.” (See photo below of a billboard in Southern Florida with a similar message.) OFA Field Director Jediah Grobstein asked them to not block the entrance, but other than that there was little interaction observed between the Democratic and Republican supporters.
  • A conference room at the Radisson was devoted to phone banking. The RJC used the same predictive dialing technology which Organizing for America used during the New York special elections of 2009. Volunteer phone bankers could stay on the phone as a computer connected them with one voter after another.

After the day of canvassing, the volunteers were treated to a private discussion with Congressmen Pat Meehan (R-PA7) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA8), and former Republican State Senator Bruce Mark, followed by Sunday Night Football as the Denver Broncos defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19.

Photo of Republican Jewish Coalition billboard in South Florida