The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to pass legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 over the next six years. The Raise the Wage Act, introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) in January, passed with only three Republicans voting in favor. The legislation now faces an uphill battle with the GOP-led Senate and the White House.
The Raise The Wage Act would gradually boost the lowest basic pay rate each year until 2025. It would rise to $8.40 in 2019, $9.50 in 2020, $10.60 in 2021, $11.70 in 2022, $12.80 in 2023, $13.90 in 2024, and $15.00 in 2025. The legislation would also create an equal minimum wage for Americans with disabilities and eliminate the separate minimum wage standard for tipped employees.
Congress set the current federal minimum wage at $7.25 10 years ago. Research from the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that a worker making the federal minimum wage cannot afford to rent an affordable two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the U.S. Tipped workers can currently be paid as little as $2.13 an hour by their employers, as long as their tips push them beyond the $7.25 hourly federal minimum.
An analysis by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows that passage of the bill would effectively raise wages for 33 million workers. A report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted the bill could increase wages for as many as 27 million Americans and potentially lift 1.3 million families out of poverty. However, more data from the CBO showed that a mandatory $15 minimum wage may eliminate as many as 3.7 million jobs across the U.S. due to companies looking to cut costs.
Estimates from the EPI show that about 36 percent of workers in the U.S. earn less than $15 an hour. Nine in 10 of the workers potentially affected by the wage hike would be over the age of 20 and 58 percent of them are women. In recent years, some cities and states have taken steps to increase the local minimum wage. There are still 21 states where the minimum wage remains at $7.25.