On behalf of the AFL-CIO, I am writing to urge you to vote for the “Raise the Wage Act of 2019” (HR 582) scheduled for floor consideration today. This legislation would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2024. In addition to indexing future increases to the growth in the median wage, the bill would gradually eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers, which has been stuck at $2.13 since 1991.
Because Congress has not raised the minimum wage in more than 10 years, millions of our nation’s full time workers live in poverty. If the minimum wage had risen at the same pace as productivity growth since 1969, it would be over $20 an hour today.
Phasing in a $15 minimum wage would benefit 41 million workers and begin to address the growing crisis of wage inequality. More than half of the workers who would benefit are adults between the ages of 25 and 54, and nearly two-thirds work full time. More than half (56 percent) are women, nearly 30 percent of whom have children.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, by 2024 a single adult without children will need at least $31,200 ($15 per hour on an annual basis) to achieve an adequate standard of living in all parts of the country. Allowing for a lower regional minimum wage, as some have suggested, would lock millions of workers into poverty, and would be especially harmful to people of color and women who would benefit most from a minimum wage increase.
Multiple studies have shown that modest increases in the minimum wage have not resulted in significant job loss, and the income boost experienced by low-income families benefits the country overall by reducing both poverty and income inequality.
Raising the minimum wage to $15 has the support of an overwhelming majority of Americans, and the benefits far exceed any potential cost. Once again, we urge you to vote YES on the Raise the Wage Act and NO on any weakening amendments. In addition, since any Motion to Recommit would be the equivalent of voting against the Raise the Wage Act, we urge you to vote no on the MTR.
Government Affairs Department