Analysis: Debating a federal $15 minimum wage

By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square

President Joe Biden supports incrementally raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, more than double the current rate of $7.25 an hour.

Late last week, he signed an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay at least $15 per hour wages and provide emergency paid leave to employees.

The order instructs the Office of Personnel Management to develop recommendations for agencies to ensure that employees receive a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Increasing the minimum wage to $15 is expected to cost roughly 1.3 million jobs, according to a 2019 analysis published by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Seattle City Council/Public domain

Increasing the minimum wage to $15 is expected to cost roughly 1.3 million jobs, according to a 2019 analysis published by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The federal minimum wage has not been increased since 2009.

Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, as Democratic lawmakers want, would increase the income of 17 million people but it would come at a cost, CBO notes, disproportionately impacting part-time workers and adults without a high school diploma.

Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia have in place minimum wages above the federal rate of $7.25, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Many of these states have higher costs of living than the states with lower minimum wage rates.

“There’s such a geographic discrepancy of wages that I think a one-size-fits-all federal minimum wage of $15 per hour may pose bigger problems for certain geographic areas or certain states more than others,” Kevin Kuhlman at the National Federation of Independent Business, said in response to the proposal. The federation is the largest U.S. small business lobby, which opposes the increase.

A $15 per hour wage for a standard 40-hour work week at 52 weeks per year translates to $31,200 in yearly wages before taxes.

Many see last week’s order as the first step toward changing the minimum wage nationally.

In 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Raise the Minimum Wage Act, which would incrementally increase the hourly wage each year, reaching $15 in 2025. The bill was blocked by former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Now with Democrats controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, a national bill increasing the minimum wage is more likely to pass.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., warned that, “If the federal government mandates a universal $15 minimum wage, many low-income Americans will lose their current jobs and find fewer job opportunities in the future.”

But Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., replied, “If the Republicans want to drag their feet while working families struggle, the Democratic majority should use every legislative tool available to pass it,” appearing to refer to budget reconciliation.

The budget reconciliation process enables the Senate to pass a bill with a simple majority vote and bypass a Republican filibuster.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/All Nite Images and Seattle City Council/Public domain

7 thoughts on “Analysis: Debating a federal $15 minimum wage

  1. It’s not just the minimum wage that increases. Everyone already earning $15/hr. will demand their commensurate pay raise too. And when they too get a pay raise, all other workers up the pay-scale ladder will demand their commensurate pay raise. If you don’t think this will happen, consider teacher union collective bargaining tactics over the years.

  2. I just can’t wait to purchase my $40 pizza, $6 coffee with the $3 donut and my $10 Whopper to the person who gets $15 dollars an hour and forgets to put catsup and napkins in the bag. Or better still jacks up my blood sugar by giving me regular Coke instead of the diet Coke I asked for. That’s what’s going to happen when they raise the minimum wage. And let’s not for get the unemployment rate.

    • A cure to the madness: Buy only what you must to survive. Use the rules, ‘Reddit style’, to your advantage. Yes, people will lose jobs (draw unemployment). Universal healthcare will kick in when you get sick.Tax revenues will collpase.The Government will go off the bankruptcy deep end in a NY minute.

      A proverbial short-squeeze if there ever was one.

  3. We could have home ownership for $600 per month.

    You could actually own something on minimum wage. Home ownership is what lifts people out of poverty. You’ll find they don’t want that. Wages rise, expenses will rise and you still can’t afford anything.

    Vermont has lead the way in wage increases for the world. And we are the most unaffordable of all tha states. How’s that working for us?

    • what keeps people out of poverty is graduating from high school, not getting married until your at least 21, and not having kids when you are not married. Home ownership has nothing to do with it.

  4. It’s the usual dog and pony show by the dems. Raise the rate and people celebrate, the ones that keep their jobs that is. Put in place insane green energy laws and watch jobs go to China and India where their manufacturing process is at least twice as polluting as here now. Not to mention destroying the environment where the needed materials come from and laborers work for poor wages.

    • If they lose, it’s still a winning argument and that is the point. See they could care less, they only want division. They don’t want better schools where people could earn a much higher wage. They don’t want people starting their own business and earn even more.

      If they propose something that sounds really good, knowing it can’t be passed. Knowing it will shut down first jobs in poor areas, they are still the winners, still the “champion” of the little guy.

      It’s all about framing. They are masters of framing the conversation. They are masters at making people look bad, so they can’t get votes.

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