Controversial Topic: Minimum Wage

Controversial Topic: Minimum Wage

Minimum wage refers to the lowest hourly wage that an employer may legally pay an employee under state and federal law. This controversial topic concerns the belief that a living wage should be a fundamental right for all American workers and is opposed by the belief that regulatory control over wage thresholds risk imposing undue economic burdens on employers with potentially deleterious effects on the economy as a whole. Because this debate topic impacts the lives of so many Americans, minimum wage is also a popular subject for a persuasive essay.

Key Takeaways

  • The federal minimum wage was last raised to its present rate of $7.25 per hour in 2009. Most Americans who make the current federal minimum wage do so while living in poverty.
  • Despite efforts, no bill to increase the minimum wage has successfully passed both chambers of Congress.
  • The argument against a minimum wage increase is that doing so could have several unfavorable effects, including inflation, decreased company competitiveness, and mass unemployment.

The minimum wage debate can’t be reduced to simple division between those in support and those in opposition. A federal minimum wage has existed in the United States since 1938, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed the provision as just one of the New Deal’s sweeping labor reforms. As such, there is little real controversy in today’s public forum about whether there should or should not be a federal minimum wage. This is a generally accepted labor standard.

However, there is tremendous push and pull over how high to set that minimum wage, and economists have openly debated over the potential economic impacts of raising the federal minimum wage to an hourly rate that could accurately be called a living wage. This is what makes minimum wage a controversial topic. Today, most adult Americans earning a minimum wage—which has been $7.25 since 2009—are living in poverty, are likely eligible for public assistance, and have not seen their wages rise commensurate to the rate of inflation or growth of the American economy in more than a decade. Under these circumstances:

  • Supporters of a raised minimum wage argue that this hourly rate should constitute a livable wage so that full-time American workers can be lifted out of poverty, and economists who share this view contend that this would have widespread positive effects on the economy by removing people from public assistance, raising consumer spending, enhancing public health, and more.
  • Opponents of a raised minimum wage argue that imposing too high a threshold on employers will strain labor costs, particularly for smaller companies operating with slimmer profit margins, and economists who share this view contend that the consequence would be widely negative for the economy, including small business failure, widespread layoffs, and higher consumer costs.

There are likely many influencers who fall somewhere in between these opposing views, such as those who may agree with the call for a raised minimum wage, but may take a more conservative perspective on how fast or how high to raise the actual rate, or those who may philosophically oppose government regulation of businesses, but who may advocate for businesses to pay their employees a living wage.

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A Brief History of The Issue

America’s Industrial Era led to a surge in production. Factory operations, textiles mills, and assembly production lines proliferated throughout the United States in the mid- and late 19th Century. And as immigrant populations flowed into the United States from Italy, Ireland, Russia and elsewhere. The new arrivals found work in these factories and mills, but did so without labor rights or protections. In the absence of these rights or protections, no minimum wage was required of employers.

The Gilded Age and Sweated Labor

The period between 1870 and the early 1900s is known as the Gilded Age in American history for its rapid economic growth. The emergence of the railroad industry, expanding settlement in the west, and the explosion of factory production, mining, and finance fostered real wage growth in America. A Census Bulletin from 1890 reports a remarkable 60% wage growth between 1860 and 1890.

Such was this growth in fact, that wages in the U.S. far outstripped those in Europe, and helped to spark the dramatic influx of immigrants from throughout the European continent. With this influx came a readily available and easily exploited source of cheap labor. Though work was more widely available, and wages higher, than in their countries of origin, immigrant workers faced widespread abject poverty.

Conditions in factories and mines were harsh, as suggested by the term “sweated labor” and the closely related term, “sweatshop.” Both of these denote harsh labor conditions including poor worker safety, human rights violations, and poverty wages. All were widespread among working populations as the 19th Century drew to a close. Worker conditions were only magnified by the opulent wealth of the industrial magnates who employed them. As America’s economy grew, so too did wage inequality. These conditions were helping to foment America’s first labor rights movement.

Australia’s Influence (1895)

As conditions in the United States were drawing toward confrontation, a similar movement made rapid headway in Australia’s Victoria state. After reports surfaced revealing poor working conditions among Melbourne’s labor class, a group of social reformers organized the National Anti-Sweating League in 1895. Their efforts are paralleled by the emergence of organized labor groups in both Britain and the United States (where the 1890-formed Consumer’s League had already begun to confront labor issues in New York City). However, it was pressure from Melbourne’s labour movement which, in 1896, produced the world’s first government-imposed minimum wage, directed at workers in industries which relied upon sweated labor.

Meanwhile, in the United States, New York’s Consumer League took on sweatshop labor through consumer boycotts. Their influence led to the formation of such leagues throughout the U.S., ultimately leading to the collective formation of the National Consumer League in 1899. In 1908, NCL representatives learned of Australia’s minimum wage laws while attending an anti-sweatshop conference in Geneva. Upon their return to the United States, NCL leaders made minimum wage a key piece of their platform.

The Progressive Era and the Lawrence Textile Strikes (1890-1912)

As labor conditions in the United States gave way to an increasingly organized labor advocacy movement, the National Consumer League worked in close concert with local groups to promote the cause of a minimum wage. These efforts were especially concentrated in a collaboration between the NCL-with leadership from labor pioneer Florence Kelley- and the Massachusetts-based Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL).

Between 1910 and 1912, these groups led a coordinated effort to institute a statewide minimum wage. Their efforts were granted a national stage with the outbreak of labor protests in Lawrence, Massachusetts. In early 1912, following the passage of a statewide law cutting the working week for laborers from 56 hours to 54 hours, workers learned that they would be bearing the brunt with a $2 a week pay cut.

Thousands-composed significantly of Italian immigrants, many women and children-mounted a strike, protesting in coordinated fashion under the organizational aegis of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The strike lasted for two full months in harsh winter conditions, and included some violent, even deadly, clashes with authorities. But when national reports shone a spotlight on the poor working conditions in Lawrence, it created the necessary pressure to bring about the nation’s first statewide minimum wage law. On June 4th, 1912, Massachusetts became the first state to create a minimum wage, though at this early stage, the state only had the authority to recommend, and not necessarily mandate, these wages. Over the next decade, 15 states and Washington DC would follow suit with their own minimum wage laws.

The Lochner Era (1897-1937)

The state-based minimum wage mandates from this first era were typically directed at women and children, who were exploited in high numbers by the sweated labor system. However, these laws came up against legal challenges by employers resistant to raising wages. During a period referred to as the Lochner Era-so-named for the case of Lochner v. New York (1905), in which it was held as unconstitutional to limit the number of hours that an employer could require an employee to work during a day or week-the Supreme Court tilted heavily against interference with business practices.

According to an opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in 2011, the Lochner Era refers to a time “in which it was common practice for this Court to strike down economic regulations adopted by a State based on the Court’s own notions of the most appropriate means for the State to implement its considered policies.”

Such was the case as minimum wage challenges reached the highest court. The Supreme Court of the era routinely struck down state-based minimum wage rules. In the noteworthy instance of Adkins v. Children’s Hospital (1923), the Supreme Court ruled that the District of Columbia’s minimum wage rule interfered with the freedom accorded businesses to negotiate contracts without government intervention.

The New Deal (1933-1938)

In the throes of the Great Depression, Americans elected Franklin D. Roosevelt, who promised sweeping change with his New Deal. The set of reforms focused heavily on the needs of American workers. In 1933, Roosevelt made a federal minimum wage a key component of his National Industrial Recovery Act. At the time, he observed, “It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.”

This is the core belief at the heart of minimum wage policies, and in using the phrase “living wages,” Roosevelt would also set the terms for a minimum wage that many advocates still push for today. Here within was the idea that a minimum wage should be sufficient to also constitute a living wage, an amount of paid hourly compensation on which an adult could afford basic living necessities including housing, food, and healthcare.

Even as Roosevelt introduced these sweeping changes, he faced the obstacle of the Lochner Era court. In the case of Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States (1935), the court ruled federal regulations controlling wages to be unconstitutional. However, political circumstances were about to change. Roosevelt’s resounding electoral victory the following year gave him the mandate to undertake major judicial reforms, the mere threat of which prompted historically pro-Lochner Justice Owen Roberts to shift in favor of the president’s New Deal legislation.

With the matter of wage regulation was raised again in the 1937 case of West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish, Roberts tipped the scales toward affirmation of the federal minimum wage. A federal minimum wage was officially enacted by the president in 1938.

In the following years, the majority of states would establish their own minimum wage rates, in many cases exceeding the rate established at the federal level.

Globalization and International Labor Rights

While a minimum wage has been the law of the land in the United States for nearly a century, shifting global circumstances have exposed countless workers around the world to labor without an established minimum wage. Many economies in the developing sphere operate without labor protections, and while regulations have abolished sweated labor in the U.S., sweatshop factories and mills are still a reality throughout the world.

The process of globalization, in which the erosion of technological and regulatory barriers has created widespread interconnectedness between the economies of the world, gives American corporations access to pools of labor in countries with little to no worker protections. In these contexts, American manufacturers and producers may rely on laborers who are not guaranteed a living wage.

Even as labor advocates in the U.S. push for wage improvements at home, the controversy over minimum wage also requires consideration of the international economy, the practice of labor offshoring, and the degree to which the absence of labor protections in developing nations impinges upon the concept of a minimum wage, both at home and abroad.

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Top Ten Historical Influencers in the Minimum Wage Debate

Using our own backstage Ranking Analytics tools, we’ve compiled a list of the most influential figures concerning the issue of minimum wage in the U.S. between 1900 and 2020. Our rankings produced a list of policy-makers, members of the judiciary, and economists who have either materially impacted the evolution of the minimum wage or who today play an active part in extending the visibility of this issue.

Top Ten Historical Influencers in the Minimum Wage Debate
1Bernie Sanders
2Hillary Clinton
3Owen Roberts
4Joe Biden
5Kshama Sawant
6John McCain
7David Card
8Nancy Pelosi
9Alan B. Krueger
10Thomas Sowell

Top Ten Most Influential Books About Minimum Wage

Using our own backstage Ranking Analytics tools, we’ve compiled a list of the most influential books on the topic of minimum wage in the U.S. between 1900 and 2020. This resulting list is an interesting mix of works by economists and labor leaders alongside examples of historical fiction and yellow journalism. This mix of texts captures well the push and pull between competing views on what a minimum wage can mean for a whole economy.

Top Ten Historical Influential Books About Minimum Wage
RankBook Title
1Industrial Democracy
2Fast Food Nation
3In Dubious Battle
4Nickel and Dimed
5American Rust
6The Jungle
7Harvard Works Because We Do
8No Logo
9The World Factbook
10Scratch Beginnings
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The Current Controversy

Though a federal minimum wage has existed since 1938, it remains an ongoing subject of controversy specifically because of the perceived gap between the actual minimum wage and the need for a true “living wage.” According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal minimum wage at the time of writing is $7.25, and was last raised on July 24, 2009.

43 states have legislated their own minimum wage which is higher than the federal rate. Five states-Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee-have no state minimum wage laws. Two states-Georgia and Wyoming-carry minimum wages that are lower than the national figures. However, in all cases, it is convention to defer to the higher of the two wages between state and federal, which denotes that states without a minimum wage law adhere to the current federal rate of $7.25 per hour, whereas a state such as California adheres to its own higher rate of $14 per hour.

As a consequence, while the federal rate is $7.25, the average minimum wage pay across the United States was $11.80 as of May 2019. Today, there is an ongoing push by labor groups, activists, and progressive policy-makers to legislate an incremental rise toward $15 per hour. This push is at the center of today’s public minimum wage controversy.

Advocates for the raise argue that the current minimum wage does not equal a living wage, that Americans earning this rate can’t effectively manage the expenses of basic subsistence in America, and that businesses should be able to offset the expense of paying a fair wage. Advocates point to findings that raising the minimum wage will help raise some of these workers out of poverty.

Opponents point to findings that forecast a $15 minimum wage would strain small business expenses, result in higher consumer costs, and ultimately lead to higher unemployment. The issue has been at the forefront of several legislative battles in 2021.

Based on these divergent positions, there is an ongoing tension between, on one side, the stagnancy of the federal minimum wage and the impoverished living conditions for many workers earning the current minimum wage and, on the other side, the imperatives for profitability that drive employers.

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A Quick Overview of Our Method

Our goal in presenting subjects that generate controversy is to provide you with a sense of some of the figures both past and present who have driven debate, produced widely-recognized works of research, literature or art, proliferated their ideas widely, or who are identified directly and publicly with some aspect of this debate. By identifying the researchers, activists, journalists, educators, academics, and other individuals connected with this debate-and by taking a closer look at their work and contributions-we can get a clear but nuanced look at the subject matter. Rather than framing the issue as one side versus the other, we bring various dimensions of the issue into discussion with one another. This will likely include dimensions of the debate that resonate with you, some dimensions that you find repulsive, and some dimensions that might simply reveal a perspective you hadn’t previously considered.

On the subject of minimum wage, this requires us to consider, in addition to key terms such as “minimum wage,” “living wage,” and “sweatshops,” key organizations which have had a stake in the current debate. For instance, a number of labor groups have played an influential part in advocacy for a minimum wage, including the “Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL).” On the other side of the debate, a number of industry lobby groups and conservative think tanks have played an active role in opposing a raise in the minimum wage, including the “National Restaurant Association” and the “American Enterprise Institute.”

Our InfluenceRanking engine gives us the power to scan the academic and public landscape surrounding the minimum wage issue using key terminology to identify consequential influencers. As with any topic that generates public debate and disagreement, this is a subject of great depth and breadth. We do not claim to probe either the bottom of this depth or the borders of this breadth. Instead, we offer you one way to enter into this debate, to identify key players, and through their contributions to the debate, to develop a fuller understanding of the issue and perhaps even a better sense of where you stand.

For a closer look at how our InfluenceRankings work, check out our methodology.

Otherwise get started with a look at the key words we used to explore this subject:

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Key Terms

Minimum Wage

The key term in our discussion, “minimum wage” refers to the lowest mandated threshold that an employer may pay to an employee under existing federal and state laws. This term yielded a number of labor leaders and economists as top influencers.


  • William Louis Wascher is an American economist and the deputy director of the Division of Research and Statistics in the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, where he has worked since 1983. He is known for his research on the economic effects of the minimum wage and aggregate supply, and is the co-author of the 2008 book Minimum Wages. Wascher and Neumark have also collaborated on multiple peer-reviewed studies on the employment effects of the minimum wage.
  • Larry Dulay Itliong , also known as “Seven Fingers”, was a Filipino-American labor organizer. He organized West Coast agricultural workers starting in the 1930s, and rose to national prominence in 1965, when he, Philip Vera Cruz, Benjamin Gines and Pete Velasco, walked off the farms of area table-grape growers, demanding wages equal to the federal minimum wage, that became known as the Delano grape strike. He has been described as “one of the fathers of the West Coast labor movement.” He is regarded as a key figure of the Asian American Movement.
  • David Rolf is an American labor leader, writer, and speaker. He was the Founding President of Seattle-based Local 775 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents health care workers, and formerly served as international vice president of SEIU. He is the author of The Fight for Fifteen: The Right Wage for a Working America about the movement by low-wage workers to earn a higher minimum wage, and A Roadmap to Rebuilding Worker Power. Rolf was a founder of the Fair Work Center in Seattle, Working Washington, The Workers Lab in Oakland, and the SEIU 775 Benefits Group.
  • Florence Moltrop Kelley was a social and political reformer and the pioneer of the term wage abolitionism. Her work against sweatshops and for the minimum wage, eight-hour workdays, and children’s rights is widely regarded today.

Living Wage

While similar to “minimum wage,” a “living wage” refers more specifically to the concept that individuals should be paid a non-poverty wage that affords access at least to basic living requirements. Influencers connected to this terminology tend to be strong advocates for a meaningful raise in the minimum wage.


  • Frederick Houk Borsch was the Episcopal bishop of Los Angeles from 1988 to 2002, then served as interim dean of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University and chair of Anglican studies at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Remembered particularly for the development of Spanish-speaking congregations, the founding of the Episcopal Urban Intern Program , his leadership in environmental stewardship, the building of the Cathedral Center of St. Paul, and advocacy for poverty-wage workers and the living wage while bishop in Los Angeles, he also served for twelve years as the chair of the House of Bishops’ Theology Committee and as a member of the design and steering teams for the 1988 and 1998 Lambeth Conferences, chairing the section “Called to be a Faithful Church in a Plural World” in 1998. Working with the Standing Commission on Human Affairs, he helped the General Convention of 1994 to include in the church’s canons sexual orientation in the non-discriminatory clauses for ordination.
  • Barbara Ehrenreich is an American author and political activist who describes herself as “a myth buster by trade” and has been called “a veteran muckraker” by The New Yorker. During the 1980s and early 1990s she was a prominent figure in the Democratic Socialists of America. She is a widely read and award-winning columnist and essayist, and author of 21 books. Ehrenreich is perhaps best known for her 2001 book Nickel and Dimed: On Getting By in America. A memoir of Ehrenreich’s three-month experiment surviving on minimum wage as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing-home aide, and Wal-Mart clerk, it was described by Newsweek magazine as “jarring” and “full of riveting grit,” and by The New Yorker as an “exposé” putting “human flesh on the bones of such abstractions as ‘living wage’ and ‘affordable housing’.” She is a recipient of a Lannan Literary Award.
  • Lawrence B. Glickman is an American history professor and author or editor of four books and several articles on consumerism. He has taught at Cornell University since 2014, where he is Stephen and Evalyn Milman Professor in American Studies. Previously he taught at the University of South Carolina. Glickman earned a Princeton University B.A. in history magna cum laude in 1985, a M.A. in 1989 and his Ph.D. in 1992 both from University of California, Berkeley. He has written three books, A Living Wage: American Workers and the Making of Consumer Society, Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America, and Free Enterprise: An American History.

Wage Law

This general terminology refers to the adoption of regulations aimed at employers, and requiring fair pay practices. Influencers identified through this search include civil servants, activists, and labor attorneys who have contributed to the public movement toward securing a living wage for all workers.


  • John Francis Henning was a U.S. labor leader, civil servant, and a former U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Under Secretary of Labor. Called “one of organized labor’s greatest leaders” and “legendary” for his defense of labor, he is also credited with a positive role in the defense of minimum wage laws and civil rights.
  • Victoria “Tory” Gavito is an activist, human rights attorney, political strategist, movement builder and advocate for the civic engagement of Latinos in the United States. As an attorney, Gavito has represented unions, immigrant and migrant workers, and individuals regarding a variety of labor law, wage payment and employment discrimination matters.
  • Dylan Orr is the Director of the Office of Labor Standards for the City of Seattle, USA. Appointed by Mayor Murray in May 2015, Orr is responsible for enforcing Seattle’s historic minimum wage law, as well as its paid sick and safe time law, wage theft law, and fair chance employment law. Previously, Orr was Chief of Staff to Assistant Secretary Kathy Martinez in the Office of Disability Employment Policy. As part of the United States Department of Labor, he contributed to the development of national disability employment-related regulations and policies, including regulations issued under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. As the Department of Labor representative, he also worked with the White House Office of National AIDS Policy on the implementation of the President’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy, in addition to making significant contributions to several federal LGBT policies and regulations. He was recruited to the Administration by the University of Washington School of Law professor and former EEOC Commissioner Paul Steven Miller. Previously, he was Special Assistant/Advisor to Assistant Secretary Martinez. Upon his appointment to his role as Special Assistant in 2009, he became the first openly transgender person appointed to any U.S. presidential administration.


This term refers to the factories and mills where workers-often predominantly immigrant women and children-labored for long hours under unsafe conditions and without fair compensation. Exposure of the abhorrent conditions in sweatshops in rapidly developing economies like the U.S., U.K., and Australia led to growing calls for change, and ultimately served as the tinderbox for the mounting labor movement. The influencers yielded by this term tend to be labor reformers and advocates for workers’ rights.


  • Elizabeth Chambers Morgan was an American labor organizer, social reformer, and socialist agitator based in Chicago, Illinois. She immigrated to the United States from England with her husband Thomas J. Morgan in 1869. She is known for exposing sweatshop conditions in Chicago. From 1888 to 1895 she was the leading woman in the Chicago labor movement.
  • Charles Kernaghan is the executive director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, formerly known as the National Labor Committee in Support of Human and Worker Rights, currently headquartered in Pittsburgh. He is known for speaking out against sweatshops, corporate greed and the appalling living and working conditions of impoverished workers around the world.
  • Jeffrey Ballinger is an American labor organizer and writer, and is the founder of Press for Change, a labor group opposed to sweatshop practices. Ballinger is noted by The New York Times for having “exposed exploitation of factory workers in Asia.” He is the editor of the book Behind the Swoosh.
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Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL)

The Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) was instrumental in advancing a number of labor causes in the early 20th Century. Their work was critical in bringing the minimum wage from concept to reality, particularly through their efforts in Massachusetts as the New England state passed the nation’s first minimum wage laws. This search term yielded a group of pioneers in both the labor and women’s suffrage movements who played a direct role in the eventual codification of a minimum wage.


  • Rose Finkelstein Norwood was an American labor organizer. During her long career she led labor campaigns for telephone operators, garment and jewelry workers, boiler makers, library staffers, teachers, sales clerks, and laundry workers. She was active in many labor and civil rights organizations, including the Boston Women’s Trade Union League, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She was a vocal opponent of antisemitism, racism, and fascism, a lifelong supporter of women’s rights and workers’ education, and an advocate for the elderly.
  • Agnes Nestor was an American labor leader, politician, and social reformer. She is best remembered for her membership and leadership roles in the International Glove Workers Union and the Women’s Trade Union League , where she organized for women’s suffrage and workers’ rights . Nestor’s prominent activities included organizing women workers in Chicago in the early 1900s, running for public office, serving on national commissions to promote education, and securing work-hour limitations for women.
  • Alice Henry was an Australian suffragist, journalist and trade unionist who also became prominent in the American trade union movement as a member of the Women’s Trade Union League.
  • Ethel Marion Smith was a women’s rights activist and a union activist in the early 1920s. She participated in women’s organizations such as the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the Women’s Trade Union League. She also worked with other union organizations such as the National Federation of Federal Employees and the American Federation of Labor. Ethel Smith spent her life promoting the idea of equal compensation for equal work regardless of gender in order to protect the rights of the individual worker as well as society as a whole.

National Restaurant Association

A lobby group composed of restaurateurs and major corporations, the National Restaurant Association is merely one example of the type of lobby group which exerts political influence to prevent a rise in the federal minimum wage. Such industry lobby groups often point to economic findings forecasting that raising the minimum wage to a rate such at $15 per hour would strain business operations. Influencers identified through our search include restaurateurs with a significant stake in employment wages in their industry.


  • Victor Rosellini was a Seattle restaurateur, and president of the National Restaurant Association and the Restaurant Association of the State of Washington.
  • Dawn Sweeney was the president & CEO of the largest trade group for the U.S. restaurant industry, the National Restaurant Association.
  • Tilman Joseph Fertitta is an American billionaire businessman and television personality. He is the chairman, CEO, and sole owner of Landry’s, Inc., one of the largest restaurant corporations in the U.S. He also owns the National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets.

American Enterprise Institute/Heritage Foundation/American Legislative Exchange Council

Typically, the most vocal and visible detractors of a raised minimum wage are economists and academics from conservative think tanks. Such think tanks often connect closely with industry groups and conservative political action committees, and will frequently take up issues of import to these entities. Much of the research cited in opposition to a minimum wage comes from organizations like the American Enterprise Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council, who argue that the increased cost to employers would have negative economic repercussions. The following influencers have made an impact on the public discussion through such channels.


  • Paul Michael Weyrich was an American religious conservative political activist and commentator, most notable as a figurehead of the New Right. He co-founded the conservative think tanks The Heritage Foundation, the Free Congress Foundation, and the American Legislative Exchange Council . He coined the term “moral majority,” the name of the political action group Moral Majority that he co-founded in 1979 with Jerry Falwell.
  • Kim R. Holmes is an author and former American diplomat and Assistant Secretary of State. From 2002 to 2005 he served as the United States Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs. Holmes is the current Executive Vice-President of the Heritage Foundation, having served twice as the foundation’s Vice President of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies and Director of its Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies between 1992 and 2012.
  • Lee Edwards is an American distinguished fellow in conservative thought at the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies at The Heritage Foundation. A historian of the conservative movement in America, he is the author or editor of 25 books, including biographies of President Ronald Reagan, Senator Barry Goldwater, Attorney General Edwin Meese III and William F. Buckley Jr. He is currently the Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
  • William Joseph Baroody Sr. was an American political figure. He was president of the American Enterprise Institute from 1962 to 1978. Baroody joined the American Enterprise Association in 1954 as executive vice president. Upon his retirement as president of the AEI he was succeeded by his son, William J. Baroody Jr., a former aide in the Ford White House.
  • John Holmes Makin was an American economist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He was a consultant to the U.S. Treasury Department, the Congressional Budget Office, the International Monetary Fund, and the Bank of Japan. He specialized in international finance and financial markets, with special emphasis on both Japanese and European economies. Makin reported on the U.S. economy, writing on topics related to monetary policy, tax, and budget issues, in monthly essays entitled “Economic Outlook,” for the American Enterprise Institute. He was a principal at Caxton Associates from 1995-2010 before returning to AEI.
  • Joshua Muravchik is a distinguished fellow at the DC-based World Affairs Institute. He is also an adjunct professor at the DC-based Institute of World Politics and a former fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies . He was formerly a fellow at the George W. Bush Institute, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute , and a scholar in residence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
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Influential Organizations Involved in the Minimum Wage Controversy

If you would like to study this topic in more depth, check out these key organizations...

Supporters for Raising the Minimum Wage

Opponents of Raising the Minimum Wage

A Further Examination of the Minimum Wage

The Economic Policy Institute says the federal minimum wage today is 17% less than it was ten years ago and 31% less in 1968.

There are also a number of minimum wage exceptions, including those for workers with disabilities, full-time students, student workers, young workers, and those who receive tips.

Minimum Wage Rates for Workers with Disabilities

Workers with disabilities that influence the task being performed are not entitled to receive the same minimum wage as those non-disabled employees. The FLSA’s Section 14(c) grants employers the right to pay wages below the minimum or subminimum wages to employees with disabilities that affect their work performance.

Employers are only permitted to pay less than the minimum wage once they have a Wage and Hour Division certificate. A disabled worker is someone whose ability to make money or be productive for the job at hand is limited by a mental or physical impairment, especially those brought on by trauma or advanced age.

The sub-minimum wages must also be commensurate wage rates, based on the worker’s productivity, no matter how limited compared to the wage and productivity of skilled workers without disabilities performing essentially the same quality, type, and quantity of work in the same geographic area.

Minimum Wage Rates for Full-Time Students

A certificate from the Department of Labor can be obtained by a company that hires students, allowing a full-time student to be paid at least 85% of the minimum wage. This program is open to all full-time students who work in retail or service industries, agriculture, colleges and universities, or other related fields.

With this credential, employers are not allowed to have full-time students work in their establishments for more than 8 hours per day or 20 hours per week during class days. The student can only work 40 hours weekly when classes are not in session. The employer is responsible for paying the student(s) at least $7.25 per hour once they have graduated or permanently left the school, which is the minimum wage rate.

Minimum Wage Rates for Young Workers

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) indicates that, for the first 90 calendar days of their employment with an employer, and so long as their labor does not replace other workers, young workers under the age of 20 are entitled to the minimum pay of $4.25 per hour.

The employee will begin getting a minimum wage of at least $7.25 per hour as per the regulations after these first 90 days or when they turn 20—whichever occurs first.

Minimum Wage Rates for Workers Who Receive Tips

According to the minimum wage law of the US Department of Labor, a tipped employee cannot receive direct earnings from an employer that are less than $2.13 per hour. This only applies if the employee’s hourly compensation of $2.13 plus any tips collected is at least equal to the federal minimum wage; otherwise, the employee will keep all tips. This indicates that the employee typically receives more than $30 monthly tips.

But there’s also an exception to this minimum wage law. Employers must compensate their employees when the direct pay plus tips don’t reach the federal minimum wage per hour.

Some states have different minimum wage regulations for workers who receive tips. When federal and state wage standards cover employees, they are entitled to the parts of each law that offer better benefits.

Minimum Wage Rates for Student Learners

All high school students at least 16 years old and engaged in vocational education are eligible for this program (shop courses). For as long as the student is involved in the vocational education program, employers must get a certificate from the Department of Labor authorizing payment of not less than 75% of the minimum wage to the student.

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