Lee County Raise the Wage Coalition Calls on Supervisors to
Establish Minimum Wage Study Group
Montrose, Iowa – On Tuesday, September 6th, 2016, the Lee County Raise the Wage Coalition will attend the Board of Supervisors meeting which starts at 9:00 a.m. at the Sheriff’s office, and formally request that the Lee County Board of Supervisors to establish a Minimum Wage Study Group (see attached proposal).
What: Lee County Raise the Wage Coalition
Where: Lee County Board of Supervisor’s Meeting:
2530 255th St, Montrose, IA 52639
When: Tuesday, September 6th, 9AM
The Lee County Raise the Wage Coalition first met last December to talk about poverty in Lee County and the need to raise wages for all workers, starting with the poorest workers – those who earn at or near the state minimum wage of $7.25 an hour (which matches the Federal Minimum Wage).
For the past eight months, we have held meetings with members of the faith community, low-wage workers, with unions and elected leadership talking about the problems that stem from low and stagnant wages, and these are some of the issues raised:
· The last time the minimum wage was raised at the Federal level and in Iowa was in 2009 to $7.25 where it remains today. Every year that the minimum wage remains the same in nominal dollars, inflation slowly erodes its real (inflation adjusted) value, leaving minimum-wage workers with a paycheck that cannot buy as much as it did in years past.
· Raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016 would return the federal minimum wage to roughly the same inflation-adjusted value it had in the late 1960s.3
· Most families in Lee County would have to earn more than $15 an hour just to pay for basic needs2
· Inaction by Congress and state legislatures has led many cities and counties to adopt a local minimum wage, including Johnson County, Iowa, which raised its minimum wage last November
· 29 states have raised the minimum wage above the federal level, including five of the six states which border Iowa.
· In fact, so many cities, counties and states have already raised the minimum wage in the US, the majority of Americans already earn a higher minimum wage than Iowa. States like Iowa, and counties like Lee, are the outliers behind the rest of the country in taking action to raise the wage for the poorest workers.
· Lee County has a 16.2 percent poverty rate, and Keokuk was recently listed as the poorest city in Iowa. 1
· The poverty rate for Lee County children under 18 rises to 23.3 percent. 1
· For single parent households headed by a woman, the poverty rate climbs to 45 percent
· 9.3 percent of households headed by a single woman who worked full time all year live below the poverty rate1
· An astonishing 11 percent of Lee County children under 18 years old live at less than 50 percent of the poverty level1
· If the minimum wage were raised to $10.10 per hour, the workers who would receive a raise do not fit the stereotypes of low-wage workers:
o The average age is 35 years old, nearly 88 percent are at least 20 years old, and more than a third (34.5 percent) are at least 40 years old. 3
o About 54 percent work full time, about 69 percent come from families with family incomes less than $60,000, and more than a quarter have children. 3
o The average affected worker earns half of his or her family’s total income. 3
· Research over the past two decades has shown that, despite skeptics’ claims, modest increases in the minimum wage have little to no negative impact on jobs. 3
· Raising the minimum wage boosts overall economic activity because it shifts income to workers who are very likely to spend it immediately. Indeed, recent research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago finds that raising the federal minimum wage to $10 could increase U.S. GDP by up to 0.3 percentage points in the near term. 3
Given these astonishing facts about low wage working families in Lee County, the Lee County Raise the Wage Coalition will ask the Board of Supervisors to establish a minimum wage study group and to look at how to take action to help Lee Counties working poor families, similar to what we have seen done in Johnson, Polk, Linn and Wapello Counties. Please see the attached proposal, and please call if you have any questions. We intend to bring a broad range of people to the Board of Supervisors meeting to speak to the issue.