Raise the Wage Act Introduced in Congress

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Last week, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the Raise the Wage Act.

This bill would raise the minimum wage incrementally from $7.75 to $8 by January 1, 2016 and then $1 per year until it reaches $12 an hour in 2020. After 2020, the minimum wage rate would be indexed to 50% of the U.S. median wage. The bill would also gradually eliminate the differential between the federal minimum wage and the subminimum wage set for tipped workers.

This is an important issue for a number of reasons:

1) Raising the minimum wage will help nearly 38 million workers, lifting working families out of poverty and increasing earnings by more than $100 billion over the next five years.

2) By indexing the wage to 50% the median income for future adjustments, no longer will raising the minimum wage become a political battle. This will allow our elected officials to focus on other pressing issues facing our nation while wages for working Americans continue to grow with the economy.

3) Raising the minimum wage will help families ease off of federal assistance. A CAP analysis found that minimum wage increases lead to statistically significant reductions in SNAP enrollment and spending. With a $12 an hour wage, taxpayer spending on SNAP will decline by $5.3 billion annually. Employers should be paying a living wage rather than shifting that burden onto taxpayers.

Furthermore, employers that pay their workers substandard wages are a burden to American taxpayers. A recent study revealed that poverty level wages by employers cost U.S. taxpayers $152.8 billion each year in various public support programs for working families.

We applaud Sen. Murray and Rep. Scott for introducing this important legislation and hope that elected officials in both parties will support it.

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