Raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2025 will restore bargaining power to workers during the recovery from the pandemic
The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom demanded a federal minimum wage that would, as economist Ellora Derenoncourt has observed , be the equivalent in inflation-adjusted terms of almost $15.00 an hour today. While organizing efforts such as the “Fight for 15” have led to many minimum wage increases at the state and local level, the current $7.25 federal minimum wage stands at less than half of that 57 year-old goal.
In spite of national grassroots efforts, Congress has failed for more than a decade to raise the federal minimum wage. Most recently, opponents have argued that the pandemic means that we still can’t afford to raise the minimum wage to the level sought by the Civil Rights movement back when John Kennedy was president.
In 1963, the applicable minimum wage varied by industry between $1.00 and $1.25 per hour, and there was no minimum wage at all for agriculture, nursing homes, restaurants, and other service industries that disproportionately employed Black workers. The March on Washington’s demands were for a $2.00 national minimum wage “that will give all Americans a decent standard of living” and to extend its coverage “to include all areas of employment which are presently excluded.” […]
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