Minimum Wage: US Versus The Rest Of The World



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Many Americans want to raise the minimum wage — quickly, before there’s another fast-food strike.
US President Barack Obama has backed a Senate effort to do just that. Meanwhile, minimum wage in 13 states will go up starting on Jan. 1.
But, for now, federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 an hour. It may not sound so low, but it is.
If an employee works full time at the current minimum wage, that worker’s annual salary would be about $15,000. That falls below the poverty line for any family of more than one.
Adding insult to injury: The purchasing value of $7.25 today, adjusting for inflation, is actually 30 percent lower than it was four decades years ago.
For many, it’s an outrage.
Some economists blame such policies for allowing the country’s income gap to widen. Many are tired of waiting for a federal raise and, taking cues from Seattle, are pushing for action on a state level.
Others think forcing up wages is Big Government tinkering where it need not. And won’t a company just pick up and relocate to a place where labor is cheaper?
It turns out many other countries also have serious issues with minimum wage.
They’ve tried all kinds of things: a flat minimum wage, a sliding scale, different scales for different jobs; or even none at all. Germans could soon have a minimum wage for the first time in their history.
GlobalPost correspondents found some instructive examples from the countries where they live and work.
They might offer some lessons for the United States.
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