CNBC: Chris Lu: We haven't raised the federal minimum wage in 9 years. Now is the time

By Chris Lu, former Deputy Secretary of Labor
CNBC, July 24, 2018

... Despite a tightening labor market, wage growth has been stagnant. ... But there’s an easy way to improve the lives of millions of Americans: raise the federal minimum wage. This week marks the ninth anniversary of the last time the federal minimum wage was raised on July 24, 2009. It currently stands at $7.25 an hour. ...

At a time when companies are flush with cash from last year’s tax cut, there’s no better time to raise the federal minimum wage. The old canard that higher wages depress job creation has been disproven by evidence that states raising their minimum wages have higher job growth. In fact, employers around the country agree that higher wages are good for the bottom line.

That’s certainly the experience of Badger in Gilsum, New Hampshire, a 100-person company that makes organic skin products like Badger Balm. Co-Owner Rebecca Hamilton thinks the federal minimum wage is “ridiculously low,” so the lowest wage at her company is $15 an hour, more than double the $7.25 minimum wage in New Hampshire. Hamilton explains: “Anytime you can make an employee feel well-treated and happy, they’re going be a better employee, and it’s easier to find employees to work for you.”

Another company that understands the value of higher wages is BA Auto Care in Columbia, Maryland. Owner Brian England supports raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour because he says better wages and benefits lead to more productive employees, longer tenures, and higher quality service.

Companies like BA Auto Care and Badger have joined with groups like Business for a Fair Minimum Wage to advocate for higher federal and state wage floors. Instead of listening to these business voices – or the overwhelming majority of Americans who favor a higher minimum wage – the Trump Administration is intent on pushing for another trickle-down tax cut. ... Meanwhile, corporations spent 88 times more on stock buybacks as they did on pay raises for workers.

Raising the federal minimum wage would be a much more effective way to help millions of workers and level the playing field for those companies that have stepped up to pay higher wages. After nine long years, it’s long past time for the White House and Congress to act. American workers shouldn’t have to depend on the generosity or geography of their employer in order to make ends meet.

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Copyright 2018 Chris Lu

 

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