Economists in support of a federal minimum wage of $15 by 2024

Today, workers who earn the federal minimum wage make $7.25 an hour—about 25 percent less per hour than their counterparts made 50 years ago (after adjusting for inflation). We can afford to pay the lowest-paid workers in America substantially more than what their counterparts were paid a half century ago. Workers produce more today from each hour of work, with productivity nearly doubling since the late 1960s.

We, the undersigned, support gradually increasing the minimum wage to $15 by 2024, and then indexing it to median wages to protect against future erosion. We also support gradually phasing out the outdated subminimum wage for tipped workers, which has been frozen at $2.13 since 1991.

This policy would directly lift the wages of 22 million workers by 2024. Another 19 million workers whose wages are just above the new minimum would likely see a wage increase through “spillover” effects, as employers adjust their internal wage scales. The vast majority of employees who would benefit are adults—disproportionately women—in working families, who work at least 20 hours a week and depend on their earnings to make ends meet.

A $15 minimum wage by 2024 would result in $144 billion in higher wages for 41 million low-wage workers, which would also benefit their families and their communities. Since lower-paid workers spend a large share of their additional earnings, this injection of wages would modestly stimulate consumer demand, business activity, and job growth. Further, modest and infrequent minimum wage increases are directly responsible for growing inequality between the bottom and the middle class; this minimum wage increase would provide a significant and much needed boost to the earnings of low-wage workers. And, because it would be indexed to growth in median wages, it would ensure that the wage floor keeps up with growth of middle-wage workers going forward.

The last decade has seen a wealth of rigorous academic research on the effect of minimum wage increases on employment, with the weight of evidence showing that previous, modest increases in the minimum wage had little or no negative effects on the employment of low-wage workers. It is time to support a bolder increase to address the fact that wages for workers at the low end of the labor market have continued to stagnate. Even if the growth of aggregate work hours for low-wage workers were to slow somewhat, workers who work less could still break even, or come out ahead, in terms of annual earnings. Since as many as 10 percent of the lowest-wage workers leave or start jobs every month, any decrease in the number of full-time equivalent jobs will mean that some workers will take more time finding a new job, or will work fewer hours. But many of these workers may still see their annual earnings rise because of their wage increase.

The benefits of gradually phasing in a $15 minimum wage by 2024 would be far-reaching, lifting pay for tens of millions of workers and helping reverse decades of growing pay inequality. The benefits of a $15 minimum wage in 2024 for workers, their families, and their communities far outweigh the potential costs. Of course, the minimum wage is just one of many policies designed to help low-wage workers. We believe that an increase in the minimum wage should be accompanied by complementary policies such as an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), enhanced safety net, increased job training, and policies to generate full employment.

Sincerely,

Jacqueline Agesa, Marshall University, Ph.D.
Sylvia A. Allegretto, University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.
Bernard E. Anderson, The Wharton School, Ph.D.
Robert M. Anderson, University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.
Eileen Appelbaum, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Ph.D.
Peter Arno, University of Massachusetts Amherst Ph.D.
Michael Ash, University of Massachusetts Amherst Ph.D.
Stephen Baldwin, Retired, Ph.D.
Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Ph.D.
Nina Banks, Bucknell University, Ph.D.
James Baron, Yale School of Management, Ph.D.
Lourdes Beneria, Cornell University, Ph.D.
David Betson, University of Notre Dame, Ph.D.
Josh Bivens, Economic Policy Institute, Ph.D.
Gail Blattenberger, University of Utah, Ph.D.
Robert Blecker, American University, Ph.D.
Barry Bluestone, Northeastern University, Ph.D.
Raford Boddy, San Diego State University, Ph.D.
Barry Bosworth, Brookings Institution, Ph.D.
Clair Brown, University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.
S. Charusheela, University of Washington, Bothell, Ph.D.
Lawrence Chimerine, Radnor Consulting, Ph.D.
Robert Coen, Northwestern University, Ph.D.
Gregory DeFreitas, Hofstra University, Ph.D.
James Devine, Loyola Marymount University, Ph.D.
Peter Diamond, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D.
Laura Dresser, COWS/University of Wisconsin, Madison, Ph.D.
Adrienne Eaton, Rutgers University, Ph.D.
Peter Eaton, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Ph.D.
John Edgren, Eastern Michigan University, Ph.D.
Gerald Epstein, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Ph.D.
Emma García, Economic Policy Institute, Ph.D.
Teresa Ghilarducci, The New School, Ph.D.
Reza Ghorashi, Stockton University, Ph.D.
Douglas Hall, Economic Progress Institute, Ph.D.
Jonathan Harris, Tufts University, Ph.D.
Martin Hart-Landsberg, Lewis and Clark College, Ph.D.
Heidi Hartmann, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Ph.D.
Robert Haveman, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ph.D.
Emily Hoffman, Western Michigan University, Ph.D.
David Howell, The New School, Ph.D.
Candace Howes, Connecticut College, Ph.D.
Oren Levin-Waldman, Metropolitan College of New York, Ph.D.
Lisa Lynch, Brandeis University, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Keefe, Rutgers University, Ph.D.
Mary C. King, Portland State University, Ph.D.
Timothy Koechlin, Vassar College, Ph.D.
Brent Kramer, City University of New York, Ph.D.
Haydar Kurban, Howard University, Ph.D.
Paul Leigh, University of California, Davis, Ph.D.
Henry Levin, Columbia University, Ph.D.
Mark Levinson, SEIU, Ph.D.
Frank Levy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D.
David B. Lipsky, Cornell University, Ph.D.
Pamela Loprest, Urban Institute, Ph.D.
Daniel Luria, Industrial Technology Institute, Ph.D.
Stanley Malinowitz, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Ph.D.
Patrick Mason, Florida State University, Ph.D.
Jordan Matsudaira, Cornell University, Ph.D.
Peter Matthews, Middlebury College, Ph.D.
Anne Mayhew, University of Tennessee, Ph.D.
Elaine McCrate, University of Vermont, Ph.D.
Lawrence Mishel, Economic Policy Institute, Ph.D.
Monique Morrissey, Economic Policy Institute, Ph.D.
Philip Moss, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Ph.D.
Eshragh Motahar, Union College, Ph.D.
Tracy Mott, University of Denver, Ph.D.
Richard Murnane, Harvard University, Ph.D.
Paulette Olson, Wright State University, Ph.D.
Rudolph Oswald, Retired, Ph.D.
Spencer Pack, Connecticut College, Ph.D.
Manuel Pastor, University of Southern California, Ph.D.
Eva Paus, Mount Holyoke College. Ph.D.
Joseph Persky, University of Illinois at Chicago Ph.D.
Michael Piore, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D.
Michael Reich, University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.
Margarita Rose, King’s College, Ph.D.
Rene Rosenbaum, Michigan State University, Ph.D.
Roy Rotheim, Skidmore College, Ph.D.
Jesse Rothstein, University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.
Peter Schaeffer, West Virginia University, Ph.D.
William Schaniel, University of West Georgia, Ph.D.
John Schmitt, Washington Center for Equitable Growth, Ph.D.
Stephen J. Schmidt, Union College, Ph.D.
Geoffrey Schneider, Bucknell University, Ph.D.
Juliet Schor, Boston College, Ph.D.
Robert E. Scott, Economic Policy Institute, Ph.D.
David Shapiro, Penn State University, Ph.D.
Robert J. Shapiro, Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business Ph.D.
Heidi Shierholz, Economic Policy Institute, Ph.D.
Dan Schubert, Dickinson College, Ph.D.
Courtenay Slater, Retired, Ph.D.
Case Sprenkle, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Ph.D.
Stephen H. Strand, Carleton College, Ph.D.
Frank Stricker, National Jobs for All Coalition, Ph.D.
Chris Tilly, University of California, Los Angeles, Ph.D.
William Waller, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, Ph.D.
Robert Wassmer, California State University, Sacramento, Ph.D.
David Weil, Boston University, Ph.D.
Joann Weiner, George Washington University, Ph.D.
Jeannette Wicks-Lim, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Ph.D.
Charles Wilber, University of Notre Dame, Ph.D.
Linda Wilcox Young, Southern Oregon University, Ph.D.
Sarah Wilhelm, SA Wilhelm Consulting, Ph.D.
Valerie Wilson, Economic Policy Institute, Ph.D.
Yavuz Yasar, University of Denver, Ph.D.
Ben Zipperer, Economic Policy Institute, Ph.D.

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