Help may be on the way

Workers who have watched the real value of their pay dwindle are getting a boost from the Nevada Legislature. The lawmakers have repealed changes in state law made by the 2015 Republican-controlled legislature undercutting prevailing wages.

Prevailing wages are an average of area-wide wages paid and are used on public works projects.

Meanwhile, at press time, the Nevada Assembly had approved legislation raising the state’s very minimum wage to $12 an hour. The measure was approved on a straight party-line vote.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and in Nevada it is one dollar higher than that. But the real dollar value of the federal minimum has declined steadily for decades. The $7.25 was set 10 years ago, and all the value of that raise has been eaten up by inflation.

“Minimum wage increases have been too infrequent to keep up with inflation,” according to the Economic Policy Institute, which calls the $7.25 minimum a “poverty wage,” increasing rather than relieving poverty.

When a Minnesota U.S. House member recently wrote, “Taking into account inflation, the federal minimum wage is actually worth less than what it was worth 50 years ago,” the fact-checking service PolitiFact rated the statement true.

—Dennis Myers