$15 Minimum Wage Gradually Becoming a Reality

The $15 minimum wage proposal which has been ongoing for years is likely to become a possibility soon as two Democratic Senate candidates defeated their Republican opponents in Georgia.

One of the incoming senators, Jon Ossof, after defeating David Perdue on Tuesday said in a tweet that he was in support of the federal $15 minimum wage increase. He said the Democrats “can raise the minimum wage to $15” but they would have to win the senate.

The chances of the new minimum wage being increased are getting higher, with President-elect Joe Biden officially entering into the White House in 11 days, and the House of Representatives is controlled by the Democrats.

Some states like Connecticut, New Jersey, California, Washington D.C, Virginia, New York, Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts all have a minimum wage of $15. However, on the federal level, the minimum wage is still $7.5 per hour and anything beyond that is likely to be resisted by the Republicans. The minimum wage was last raised to $7.5 in 2009, totaling a $15,080 salary per year.

According to statistics from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the federal minimum wage is barely enough to rent a two-bedroom apartment in any state of the country. Also, low-wage workers are affected because they have to work double jobs or more to be able to meet their daily needs such as food, home supplies, medical care, transportation, accommodation, etc.

The impact of COVID-19 on society has also made things worse as millions of Americans remain unemployed and have to depend on government assistance. Millions of Americans have also not been able to pay their rent.

In nearly a decade, the support for a $15 federal minimum wage increase has grown among Democrats. It was first introduced in 2012 and Democrats have pushed for it ever since. In 2019, the U.S. House passed a bill that would support the $15 minimum wage increase by 2025. This would boost the income of roughly 17 to 27 million income earners in the country, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The downside to it is that, by 2025, inflation may make $15 lose its actual value in the present day.

“Fifteen dollars by 2025 is a very moderate standard for the country,” said Paul Sonn, state policy program director at the National Employment Law Project. “Even in the low-cost states, it’s the minimum that workers will need by then to afford the basics. In high-cost states, it’s already not enough.”

In the history of the U.S. federal minimum wage, Congress has never used an automatic adjustment technique to allow the minimum wage to automatically rise or fall in line with the economy. As a result, the federal minimum wage’s purchasing power is always lesser than the current economic situation. For example, the $7.5 federal minimum wage is about 16% less than what it was in 2009 when it was enacted.

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