President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday said he will ask Congress to boost the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour from the current $7.25 per hour. The federal minimum wage has not been increased since 2009. The call to raise the federal minimum wage is part of a larger $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package called the American Rescue Plan aimed at helping boost the U.S. economy from the damage of the pandemic. “There should be a national minimum wage of $15 an hour,” Biden said during a Thursday night speech. “Nobody working 40 hours a week should be living below the poverty line.”Along those lines, let me introduce you to an interactive tool from the Congressional Budget Office that goes over plans to raise the wage. It starts with the 2019 Raise the Wage Act, which was passed by House Democrats and would allow the minimum wage to hit $15 by 2026, and then gets indexed to the increase in median wages from there. It's a bit outdated, since it assumed we'd be nearing by now, but you'll get the idea. What you'll find is that it would result in slightly higher unemployment, but a much higher number iof workers would be better off. Raising the waged also would significantly reduce poverty, and would reverse some of the massive economic inequality that exists in 2020s America.
Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, as well as ending the tipped minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities will help ensure that workers across the country can provide for their families, according to the briefing.Ending the "tipped wage" would be a significant game-changer for jobs such as bartending and waiting tables, as that hourly wage is far below $7.25 in many states. This includes Wisconsin, whose tipped wage is $2.33 an hour, and as low as $2.13 for teenagers that are just starting the job. Workers with disabilities can also be paid under $7.25 an hour under current law, as long as it there are reviews to confirm that the business isn't using that exception to get around wage laws. That may be a tough slog to get through all at once (given that the Wisconsin Restaurant Association actively promotes their opposition to paid sick leave and the ability for local communities to have higher minimum wages, I'd think they would hate this). But let's plug in the numbers into the CBO report (assuming we get to $15 in 2026), and see what we get. Biden's support of workers organizing and demanding better working conditions should also help. Isn't it nice to be talking about a president and Congress that is debating how MUCH to help workers and reduce poverty instead of one who is constantly funneling money to the rich and corporate at the expense of everyone else? Let's have it continue.