Democrats in both the House and Senate have introduced the Raise the Wage Act of 2019 (S. 150/H.R. 582), which would raise the federal minimum wage by roughly a dollar a year until it reaches $15 in 2024. Thereafter, further increases to the minimum wage would be adjusted based on median wage growth without the need for additional legislation. The bill includes other provisions to address increasing income inequality, such as the gradual elimination of sub-minimum wages for young people, people with disabilities, and tipped workers (restaurant workers and others in the service and hospitality industry).
Many lawmakers assume that young people without major financial responsibilities hold minimum wage jobs, but in reality the majority of these jobholders are adults and their household’s primary breadwinners. Sixty-two percent of those working minimum wage jobs are women, and six million of them are mothers. Nearly 75% of Americans support raising the minimum wage. Nineteen states have already done so, and another 21 cities in red and blue states alike have increased the minimum wage to $15/hour. Under the Raise the Wage Act, nearly 30% of all American workers would see higher wages, including more than 40% of African American workers and a third of Latinx workers.
Increasing the minimum wage would benefit not only struggling workers and families but also the US economy. Consumer spending would increase, and the need for taxpayer funded public-assistance programs would decrease. Congressional support for the Raise the Wage Act is at an all-time high with 30 co-sponsors in the Senate and 188 co-sponsors in the House. The time for Congress to act is now.