cents.jpgToday, the nation’s minimum wage climbs 70 cents.

Yesterday, I bought a chicken and it cost me $2 more than just a few months ago. Bread is up $1, milk is up about 60 cents, and every time I buy fruit or vegetables I go into shock when the cashier rings them up. I’m not even going to get into how much more we pay at the pump.

What does this mean — it means with inflation skyrocketing the measly 70 cent hike to minimum wage for nearly 2 million workers is not only just a drop in the bucket, but a big nose-thumb to those poor souls who only get paid the minimum.

The new minimum is less than the inflation-adjusted 1997 level of $7.02, and far below the inflation-adjusted level of $10.06 from 40 years ago, according to a Labor Department inflation calculator.

And when I say poor folks, I mean poor. The increase in the minimum wage is the second of three increases that were part of a law passed in 2007, and with the recent hike to total per hour is $6.55 cents. That means $13,624 a year if the worker never takes any time off, and that means a family of four living on that wage would still be under the poverty line.

There wasn’t much hoopla over the increase today. I couldn’t even find mention of it in the three newspapers I read every morning. I’m having my intern Katherine check now to make sure I didn’t miss it.

I don’t blame the mass media for not covering it much. It’s an embarrassment that during the last decade when Wall Street bestowed unfathomable riches on so many; and the gap between the working stiff and the elite in this country reached historic proportions, that Congress would pony up only a few cents for the people at the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

I have to say, I’m surprised there hasn’t been more of an outcry from liberals or the religious right.

Poverty in the richest country in the world is a slam to equal opportunity, no?

Poverty in the richest country in the world is a sin, no?

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