Bernie Sanders’ minimum wage bill would improve the lives of 40 million Americans

The Raise the Wage Act "would eliminate decades of growing wage inequality between the lowest-paid and the typical U.S. worker."

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Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 would benefit nearly 40 million American adults, according to a new analysis the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

The analysis is in response to a new bill introduced last month by Senators Bernie Sanders (I0VT) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) called the Raise the Wage Act of 2019. The bill would raise the federal hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 over the next five years as well as providing a new minimum for tipped workers, whose minimum wage is currently $2.31 an hour. The federal minimum wage has not changed since July 2009.

Utilizing the EPI’s Minimum Wage Simulation Model, which “estimates the workforce affected by changes in minimum wages, accounting for all existing state and local minimum wage laws,” senior economic analyst David Cooper was able to predict the impacts of the bill on American workers.

The results show that:

Gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would directly lift the wages of 28.1 million workers. The average directly affected worker who works all year would receive a $4,000 increase in annual wage income—equal to a raise of 20.9 percent. Another 11.6 million workers would benefit from a spillover effect as employers raise wages of workers making more than $15 in order to attract and retain employees.

EPI provides a breakdown of the 39.7 million workers that would be affected:

  • 38.6 million adults ages 18 and older
  • 23.8 million full-time workers
  • 23.0 million women
  • 11.2 million parents
  • 5.4 million single parents
  • The parents of 14.4 million children

Results also show that the bill would greatly affect those workers living at or below the poverty line, more so than any other group. More than two-thirds of the working poor would see wage increases with the implement of the bill and “the workers who would receive a pay increase are overwhelmingly adult workers, most of whom work full time in regular jobs, often to support a family.” This is in direct contradiction to the GOP’s claim that raising the minimum wage would mostly affect teenagers, those the work part-time after school, or those that are stay-at-home parents working for extra spending money.

“The workers with families who would benefit are typically the primary breadwinner for their family, earning an average of 51.9 percent of their family’s total income.”

The EPI also notes: “Because lower-paid workers spend much of their extra earnings, this injection of wages would help stimulate the economy and spur greater business activity and job growth.”

Further, EPI concludes that the Raise the Wage Act “would eliminate decades of growing wage inequality between the lowest-paid and the typical U.S. worker.”

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Alexandra Jacobo
Alexandra Jacobo is a progressive writer, activist, and mother who began her political involvement in earnest passing out blankets to occupiers in Zuccotti Park in 2011. She is concerned with educating the public and inspiring them to take action on progressive issues that promote positive change at home and abroad.

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