EPI Policy Center applauds the authors and co-sponsors of the Raise the Wage Act of 2017. Introduced today by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the bill would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 and index it to median wages going forward, as well as eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers by gradually increasing it until it reaches parity with the federal minimum wage.
The federal minimum wage was established in 1938 to help ensure that all work would be fairly rewarded and provide a decent quality of life. The current minimum wage falls far short of this goal. Thanks to congressional inaction, the purchasing power of the minimum wage has been eroded by inflation. It now stands at 25 percent less than its peak in 1968. Meanwhile, low-wage workers have become more educated and productivity has steadily increased. We can afford to pay the lowest-paid worker in America today more than what her counterpart earned half a century ago. Gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 help make up for lost ground, directly or indirectly lifting wages for 41.5 million workers—29.2 percent of the wage-earning workforce.
EPI Policy Center urges Congress to pass the Raise the Wage Act and provide a much needed boost for America’s working families.