US: $15 Minimum Wage Would Reduce Poverty but Increase Unemployment

Published February 9th, 2021 - 02:00 GMT
US: $15 Minimum Wage Would Reduce Poverty but Increase Unemployment
The CBO analysis found that in addition to boosting the wages of millions of minimum wage earners, another 10 million who are "otherwise earning slightly" more than $15 per hour also could get a pay increase. (Shutterstock)
Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour would boost wages for some 17 million people and raise 900,000 U.S. workers out of poverty, but cost the United States 1.4 million jobs by 2025, the Congressional Budget Office said Monday.

 

The CBO analysis found that in addition to boosting the wages of millions of minimum wage earners, another 10 million who are "otherwise earning slightly" more than $15 per hour also could get a pay increase.

The net pay for U.S. workers would grow by $333 billion, which would be more than double the amount subtracted by the workers who become unemployed, the estimate said. That would lead to higher tax revenue, because labor is taxed at a higher rate than corporations, the report said.

Overall consumer demand for goods and services would also be boosted, the report said because "lower-income families spend a larger proportion of any additional income on goods and services than do families with higher income."

However, faced with higher wages, employers might also have an incentive to invest in technology or machinery that cut jobs completely as wages rose, the agency said.

In 2019, House Democrats passed the Raise the Wage Act, which languished in the Republican-majority Senate. With a majority in both U.S. chambers, the push for a federal minimum wage boost could move forward.

A 2019 study by the Brookings Institution found that about 44% of American workers are employed in low-wage jobs that pay median annual wages of $18,000.

Proponents of the wage increase said unemployment rates were unaffected by wage hikes in expensive cities such as New York City and Seattle, while opponents, including the U.S Chamber of Commerce, said that boosting the minimum wage would have disruptive effects on employers, particularly small businesses, as well as "negative effects on the job opportunities for first time and lower skilled workers."

President Joe Biden has pushed to raise the federal minimum wage for all workers, which has remained stagnant since 2009 at $7.25 per hour. Many states and cities have raised their minimum wages incrementally over the past few years.

Biden has already raised the federal worker minimum wage to $15 by executive order.


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