Democrats Propose $15 Minimum Wage

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer January 17, 2019
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​Congressional Democrats unveiled legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024.

The Raise the Wage Act, introduced in both the House and the Senate on Jan. 16, would gradually increase the wage floor from $7.25, and then adjust it annually based on the national median hourly wage. The bill would also phase out subminimum wages for youth, tipped workers and workers with disabilities.

Democrats say the proposal will increase pay for millions of low-wage earners and boost the economy through their increased spending power. Critics of the legislation argue that small businesses will be burdened, jobs will be eliminated and workers' hours will be cut.

A 2014 analysis from the Congressional Budget Office found that President Barack Obama's proposal to boost the minimum wage to $10.10 would have increased pay for 1.65 million workers, but also put half a million workers out of a job.

The last increase to the federal minimum wage was enacted in 2007, which set the current wage in 2009. Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C., currently have a minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum.

(CNBC)

President's Position Unclear

President Donald Trump has given conflicting signals over raising the minimum wage. He has not discussed the issue publicly since winning the 2016 election but said during the presidential campaign that "Having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country." He has also voiced support for an increase in the hourly minimum to $10 and proposed eliminating the minimum wage altogether.

(Politico)

Dissension in the Ranks

Some Democrats expressed that a regional approach would work better. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., suggested that an across-the-board minimum wage hike could be problematic.

"The idea that Spokane, Manhattan and Selma should share the same minimum wage is nonsensical and unfair to low-wage workers everywhere," she said, comparing cities in Washington state and Alabama with the pricey New York City borough. 

She and other Democrats have proposed differentiating minimum wages based on regional cost of living.

(The Wall Street Journal)

New York Eateries Struggle with $15

More than three-quarters of restaurants in New York City have reduced employee hours since the minimum wage was increased to $15 per hour there this year.

In a survey by The NYC Hospitality Alliance, 76.5 percent of full-service restaurant respondents said they had to reduce employee hours and 36 percent said they eliminated jobs in 2018 in response to the mandated wage increase.

(U.S. News & World Report)

More States and Cities Raised Their Minimum Wage in 2019

Nineteen states increased their minimum wage at the start of 2019: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Washington. New rates will take effect in July for employees in Oregon and Washington, D.C.

(SHRM Online)

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