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 29 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 We also support gradually phasing out the outdated subminimum wage for tipped workers, which has been frozen at $2.13 since 1991.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 28.1 million workers by 2024. Another 11.6 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 $121 billion in higher wages for 39.7 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,

Daron Acemoglu, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D.
Jacqueline Agesa, Marshall University, Ph.D.
Alan Aja, Brooklyn College, CUNY, Ph.D.
Randy Albelda, University of Massachusetts Boston, Ph.D.
Sylvia A. Allegretto, University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.
Bernard E. Anderson, University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D.
Robert M. Anderson, University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.
Eileen Appelbaum, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Ph.D.
Michael Ash, University of Massachusetts Amherst Ph.D.
Algernon Austin, Demos, Ph.D.
Kate Bahn, Washington Center for Equitable Growth, Ph.D.
Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Ph.D.
Erdogan Bakir, Bucknell University, Ph.D.
Stephen Baldwin, Retired, Ph.D.
Nina Banks, Bucknell University, Ph.D.
James Baron, Yale School of Management, Ph.D.
Lourdes Beneria, Cornell University, Ph.D.
Jared Bernstein, Ph.D.
Josh Bivens, Economic Policy Institute, Ph.D.
Sandra Black, University of Texas at Austin, Ph.D.
Gail Blattenberger, University of Utah, Ph.D.
Robert Blecker, American University, Ph.D.
Barry Bluestone, Northeastern University, Ph.D.
Barry Bosworth, Brookings Institution, Ph.D.
Heather Boushey, Washington Center for Equitable Growth, Ph.D.
Clair Brown, University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.
Lawrence Chimerine, Radnor Consulting, Ph.D.
Robert Coen, Northwestern University, Ph.D.
Jennifer Cohen, Miami University, Ph.D.
David Cutler, Harvard University, Ph.D.
Sheldon Danziger, University of Michigan, Ph.D.
Angus Deaton, Princeton University, Ph.D.
Gregory DeFreitas, Hofstra University, Ph.D.
James Devine, Loyola Marymount University, Ph.D.
Geert Dhondt, John Jay College, CUNY, Ph.D.
Peter Diamond, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 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.
Allan Freyer, NC Justice Center, Ph.D.
Teresa Ghilarducci, The New School, Ph.D.
Jeeten Giri, Union College, Ph.D.
Martin Hart-Landsberg, Lewis and Clark College, Ph.D.
Jeff Hayes, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Ph.D.
Adam Hersh, Former Chief Economist of the Joint Economic Committee, Ph.D.
Stephen Herzenberg, Keystone Research Center, Ph.D.
Emily Hoffman, Western Michigan University, Ph.D.
David Howell, The New School, Ph.D.
Candace Howes, Connecticut College, Ph.D.
Jennifer Hunt, Rutgers University, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Keefe, Rutgers University, Ph.D.
Mary C. King, Portland State University, Ph.D.
Janet Knoedler, Bucknell University, Ph.D.
Ebru Kongar, Dickinson 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.
Oren Levin-Waldman, Metropolitan College of New York, 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.
Stephanie Luce, School of Labor and Urban Studies/CUNY, Ph.D.
Lisa Lynch, Brandeis University, Ph.D.
Julianne Malveaux, Economic Education, Ph.D.
Patrick Mason, Florida State University, Ph.D.
Jordan Matsudaira, Columbia University, Ph.D.
Peter Matthews, Middlebury College, Ph.D.
Anne Mayhew, University of Tennessee, Ph.D.
Elaine McCrate, University of Vermont, Ph.D.
John Miller, Wheaton College, 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.
Robert Murphy, Boston College, Ph.D.
Paulette Olson, Wright State University, Ph.D.
Rudolph Oswald, Retired, Ph.D.
Spencer Pack, Connecticut College, Ph.D.
Prasannan Parthasarathi, Boston College, Ph.D.
Manuel Pastor, University of Southern California, Ph.D.
Mark Paul, New College of Florida, Ph.D.
Eva Paus, Mount Holyoke College. Ph.D.
Kenneth Peres, Retired, Communications Workers of America, Ph.D.
Joseph Persky, University of Illinois at Chicago Ph.D.
Michael Piore, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D.
Robert Pollin, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Ph.D.
Mark Price, Keystone Research Center, Ph.D.
Michael Reich, University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.
Rene Rosenbaum, Michigan State University, Ph.D.
Jesse Rothstein, University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.
Daniel Rubinfeld, University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.
Emmanuel Saez, University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.
Isabel Sawhill, Brookings Institution, Ph.D.
Peter Schaeffer, West Virginia University, Ph.D.
William Schaniel, University of West Georgia, Ph.D.
Stephen J. Schmidt, Union College, Ph.D.
John Schmitt, Economic Policy Institute, Ph.D.
Geoffrey Schneider, Bucknell University, Ph.D.
Juliet Schor, Boston College, Ph.D.
Robert E. Scott, Economic Policy Institute, Ph.D.
Heidi Shierholz, Economic Policy Institute, Ph.D.
Rachel Silbermann, Connecticut Voices for Children, Ph.D.
Andria Smythe, Howard University, Ph.D.
Younghwan Song, Union College, Ph.D.
Sarah Spell, Ph.D.
Case Sprenkle, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Ph.D.
William E. Spriggs, Howard University and AFL-CIO, Ph.D.
Marshall Steinbaum, Roosevelt Institute, Ph.D.
James Stewart, The Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D.
Frank Stricker, CSU Dominguez Hills, Ph.D.
Kenneth P. Thomas, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Ph.D.
Chris Tilly, University of California, Los Angeles, Ph.D.
Laura Tyson, University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.
Johan Uribe, Denison University, Ph.D.
Paula Voos, Rutgers University, Ph.D.
Richard Walker, University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.
Robert Wassmer, California State University, Sacramento, Ph.D.
David Weil, Brandeis University, Ph.D.
Joann Weiner, The George Washington University, Ph.D.
Jeannette Wicks-Lim, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Ph.D.
Charles Wilber, University of Notre Dame, Ph.D.
Sarah Wilhelm, Ph.D.
Robert B. Williams, Guilford College, Ph.D.
Valerie Wilson, Economic Policy Institute, Ph.D.
Yavuz Yasar, University of Denver, Ph.D.
Alexandria Zhang, Ph.D.
Ben Zipperer, Economic Policy Institute, Ph.D.


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