WASHINGTON — Some low-paid workers won't benefit even if a long-shot Democratic proposal to raise the federal minimum wage becomes law.
More than a dozen categories of jobs are exempt from the minimum, currently $7.25 an hour. Those exclusions, rooted in labor law history, run from some workers with disabilities to crews on fishing ships to casual babysitters.
Legislation sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, would gradually raise the minimum to $10.10 by 2016. The Congressional Budget Office estimates it would mean higher earnings for 16.5 million workers — but also would cost 500,000 others their jobs.
Harkin's measure wouldn't eliminate exemptions, including for live-in companions for the elderly and jobs at summer camps.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says nearly 1.8 million hourly workers were paid below $7.25 last year — about 2 percent of the 76 million Americans earning hourly wages.
Some earning under that amount are covered by lower requirements. In one major category, wages for tipped employees such as waiters can be as low as $2.13 hourly.