The following is a statement from Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project:
“This week Birmingham became the first city in the Deep South to adopt a local minimum wage, showing that the appetite for fair wages knows no regional boundaries. By a vote of 7-0 with one abstention, the City Council approved a measure to set a local minimum wage of $10.10 by 2017, with increases tied to inflation each year thereafter.
“Alabama is one of just five states without its own minimum wage, where the current federal minimum wage of just $7.25 applies. The estimated 5 percent of Alabamians earning this poverty wage have not received a pay raise since 2009, when the federal wage floor was last increased. A minimum wage of $10.10 in Birmingham could benefit as many as 40,000 workers, or 19 percent of city’s population.
“The news from Birmingham yesterday is welcomed not only by low-income families who directly benefit from a higher wage, but also by local businesses, which depend on the healthy purchasing power of these families to be successful and profitable. In Birmingham, as in the rest of the country, fair wages are a win-win for all involved: affected workers, who will be able to stretch their budgets a little more; businesses, who are likely to see an increase in the demand for their goods and services; and the local government, whose tax revenues will be boosted by an increase in sales.
“The City Council’s action is part of a growing trend of local governments throughout the country – including Louisville (KY) and Kansas City (MO) – which, over the past two years, have approved higher minimum wages to tackle local poverty, raise the wage floor to better meet local needs, and respond to congressional or state gridlock. The measure approved yesterday in Birmingham is pending review by the city attorney.
“The National Employment Law Project commends the Birmingham City Council for their leadership in raising the wages of poorly paid, hardworking families in Birmingham. This is a first good step to turn around the future not only of low-wage workers, but also of the city’s economy, which has been struggling for a number of years.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 19, 2015
CONTACT: Anna Susman, Anna.Susman@berlinrosen.com, 646-200-5285