CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- President Barack Obama's State of the Union call for Congress to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour prompted a flurry of press releases and online comments.
According to a White House fact sheet, an increase in the minimum wage would directly boost the wages of about 15 million workers.
In 2011 -- the latest year for which figures are available -- 34,000 of the 462,000 workers in West Virginia who were paid hourly rates earned the federal minimum wage or less, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The White House fact sheet pointed out that Obama also proposed raising the minimum wage for tipped workers, "which has not been increased for over 20 years."
Asked how many tipped workers there are in West Virginia, Courtney Sisk, spokeswoman for WorkForce West Virginia, said, "Many occupations receive tips, but we focused just on servers who receive a server wage and rely on tips to compensate for the difference. As of third quarter 2012, there were 12,110 waiters and waitresses (servers) reported in our survey."
Here's another factoid: The White House said raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour "would restore the real value of the minimum wage to what it was in 1981."
According to a study of the federal minimum wage by Oregon State University, the first federal minimum wage was 25 cents an hour, set in 1938.
A couple of the study's noteworthy findings: