EPI: Bold Increases in the Minimum Wage Should Be Evaluated

Labor News

Low-wage workers and ministers rally together in Tennessee as part of the Moral Mondays movement. (AP photo/ Travis Loller)

Reprinted from The Economic Policy Institute by David CooperLawrence Mishel, and Ben Zipperer on April 18, 2018.

Workers today paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour are making 25 percent less than their counterparts made in 1968, despite the fact that the nation’s productivity has roughly doubled since then. Concern that low-wage workers are being deprived of the wage increases their increased productivity should deliver has led local, state, and federal policymakers to propose minimum wage increases that exceed the minimum wage increases that took effect in the 1990s and 2000s. Among the bolder proposals is a 2017 bill introduced by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Patty Murray (D-Washington) to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024, which would raise the minimum wage above its inflation-adjusted peak value in 1968. California, Washington, D.C., and a number of local jurisdictions have also recently passed laws phasing in a $15 minimum wage, while other jurisdictions are considering such increases, or have enacted smaller but still significant increases (Cooper 2017; EPI 2018). …

  • The existing research on minimum wage policies justifies bolder increases than in the 1990s and 2000s. Federal and state governments enacted more modest minimum wage increases in the 1990s and 2000s, and these increases did not lead to substantial employment losses. This suggests that we could have pursued larger increases with few negative consequences for low-wage workers. …

EPI 4/18

About Jeffrey Burman 3188 Articles
Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.

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