“With no obvious answer, the best approach is caution. The stubbornly high jobless rate coming out of a deep recession is a good reason why now might not be the time for a significant increase in the cost of labor.
A better approach would be to simply start adjusting the minimum wage for inflation, backdating the first increase to 2009. In the current low inflation environment, $7.25 would have only grown to $7.76 as of last year.
An automatic inflation adjustment would also prevent the minimum wage from being held hostage to other political goals. The last time it was hiked, for instance, some unrelated and unjustified business tax cuts were tacked onto the legislation.
Most important, an automatic increase would mean that the rate isn’t, in effect, reduced each year as inflation erodes its purchasing power.