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Institute Index: $15 Wage Bill in Hands of Senator Opposed to Minimum Wage

The boost could lift 1.3 million people out of poverty

Demonstrators participate in a Fight for $15 rally on April 14, 2015.

Demonstrators participate in a Fight for $15 rally on April 14, 2015. (Photo: Rae Breaux/Flickr/cc)

Date on which the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Raise the Wage Act, which would boost the federal hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 by 2025, phase out the $2.13 hourly minimum for tipped workers, and end subminimum wages for teens and workers with disabilities: 7/18/2019

Month in which the bill, won by the Fight for $15 movement, was introduced in the House by Bobby Scott, a Virginia Democrat, and in the Senate by Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent: 1/2019

Year in which the federal government last adjusted the minimum wage: 2009

Since a federal minimum wage was first set in 1938, rank of the current wage among those that have been stagnant the longest: 1

Of the 13 Southern states, number with a state minimum wage that's higher than the federal standard: 3*

According to a Congressional Budget Office report released this month, number of people whose pay would increase as a result of raising the hourly minimum wage to $15: at least 17 million

Number of people the measure would lift out of poverty: 1.3 million

Percent of black workers who would get a raise if the bill becomes law: 40

Percent of Hispanic workers who would also get a raise: over 30

Annual pay increase the measure would give the average affected worker: $3,500


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Number of people the CBO report, citing "considerable uncertainty," said could also lose their jobs as a result of the proposal — an estimate that some economists call "too pessimistic": between 0 and 3.7 million

Number of adverse effects on employment found by an study of the proposal also released this month by the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at UC Berkeley: 0

According to that study, ratio of the federal minimum wage to the national median wage such an increase would mark, a new high: 0.68

Increase in the relative minimum wage the law would bring in Alabama and Mississippi, the two lowest-wage states: 0.77 and 0.85

Date on which Sen. Sanders most recently wrote to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) asking him to bring the bill to the Senate floor: 7/18/2019

Number of actions the Senate has taken on the bill since it was introduced and sent to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Tennessee's Lamar Alexander, who has called for the minimum wage to be abolished altogether: 0

Date on which an op-ed by Stephen Prince, founder of a Tennessee-based business and vice chair of Patriotic Millionaires, ran in the Tennessean newspaper calling on Alexander, who is not running for a fourth term next year, to stop stonewalling and allow debate on the measure: 6/27/2019

* Arkansas ($9.25), Florida ($8.46), and West Virginia ($8.75).

(Click on figure to go to source.)

Sue Sturgis

Sue Sturgis

Sue Sturgis is the Director and regular contributor to the Institute for Southern Study's online magazine, Facing South, with a focus on energy and environmental issues. Sue is the author or co-author of five Institute reports, including Faith in the Gulf (Aug/Sept 2008), Hurricane Katrina and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (January 2008) and Blueprint for Gulf Renewal (Aug/Sept 2007). Sue holds a Masters in Journalism from New York University.

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