The results of the first study analyzing the impact of a $15 minimum wage show that the increase wouldn’t cost American jobs, according to Vox. Additionally, the new research shows the poorest Americans would benefit substantially from a higher minimum wage. Who woulda thunk!
The data comes from a white paper published today by UC Berkeley economists Anna Godoey and Michael Reich. The economists found zero evidence that nearly doubling the federal minimum wage would lead to fewer jobs, something that big business often warns about when a higher minimum wage is suggested.
The study also found that a $15 minimum wage would close some gaps between the income of poor and middle class Americans, even in very poor states. Currently, workers making minimum wage in Alabama make “45 cents for every dollar earned by a median wage worker,” Vox writes. The economists say that with a $15 minimum wage, that gap would close to only 77 cents.
Godoey and Reich’s study is the first of its kind to focus on areas like Alabama, where a larger percentage of workers make minimum wage, rather than wealthier states where minimum wage increases have already happened.
On a conference call, Godoey told reporters that their study shows “the US can absorb a $15 minimum wage, without significant job losses, even in low-wage states.”
Several major cities and states in the U.S. have already promised to raise the minimum wage significantly—some even to over $15 an hour—including Seattle, San Francisco, and Missouri. Economists have looked at the early results in these cases, and found that the wage hikes didn’t lead to a loss of jobs, and the higher wages benefitted low income workers.
Congress hasn’t raised the federal minimum wage since 2009, when it was set at $7.25 an hour. A study from the Economic Policy Institute shows that low income workers have lost $3,000 a year ever since, when rising costs of living are taken into account. Other studies have shown that there has been no meaningful rise in wages for most American workers since the 1970s when inflation is accounted for.
Raising the minimum wage is a major issue on the 2020 campaign trail, with candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders proposing a $15 federal minimum wage and seriously pissing off big corporations in the process. There’s also a bill in Congress right now that would do the same by 2024, and it will soon be up for a vote. People seem to like the idea, but it’s highly unlikely that the bill will pass the the Republican-controlled Senate.