CHN: $15 Minimum Wage Bill Would Lift Pay for 41 Million Workers

On Jan. 16, members of Congress introduced legislation that would more than double the federal minimum wage, raising it gradually from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour by 2024. The Raise the Wage Act of 2019 would also phase out the subminimum wage for tipped workers and sunset the subminimum wage for workers with disabilities and workers under the age of 20.  After 2024, the bill would require the minimum wage to rise automatically to keep pace with inflation.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the legislation would lift pay for 41 million workers – nearly 30 percent of the U.S. workforce. It would generate $144 billion in higher wages for workers, which would begin to reverse decades of growing pay inequality and help stimulate the economy.

Christine Owens, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project, said in a statement, “The federal minimum wage is supposed to provide a meaningful standard to ensure that workers everywhere in the country are paid at least an adequate wage to meet their basic needs. But with the federal minimum wage stuck for 10 years at a poverty-level $7.25 an hour, it’s falling far short in that regard. Instead, it’s being used to suppress workers’ wages.”

The last time Congress raised the federal hourly minimum wage was in 2007. Twenty-one states currently follow the federal minimum wage, and in 17 of those states, lawmakers have enacted preemption laws prohibiting cities and counties from adopting higher minimum wages. Polls show nearly three-quarters of voters support an increase, though there’s disagreement over the exact amount. Young voters have indicated the minimum wage is a driving issue for them in voting.

The Coalition on Human Needs joined more than 350 organizations in signing a letter of support for the Raise the Wage Act.

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