Contact: Blake Case
firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 832-6079
July 25, 2023—Business owners around the country are speaking up in support of new legislation introduced in Congress today, the Raise the Wage Act of 2023, to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $17 by 2028. They say a long overdue minimum wage increase would boost consumer spending, strengthen the workforce, and benefit their businesses and the economy.
Yesterday, July 24, marked 14 years since the minimum wage was last increased – the longest period without a raise since the federal minimum wage was enacted in 1938. The $7.25 federal minimum wage amounts to just $15,080 a year for full-time workers. The buying power of the minimum wage has decreased significantly in recent decades as increases have been too little, too late. The federal minimum wage peaked in purchasing power in 1968, when it was worth $14.27 in 2023 dollars, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator.
The Raise the Wage Act of 2023 would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $17 by 2028 and then index it in the future. It would phase out the $2.13 tipped subminimum wage by 2029.
To put the inadequacy of the $7.25 federal minimum wage in perspective, the MIT Living Wage Calculator reports that in Mississippi, the nation’s poorest state, the minimum wage would need to be $15.42 for one adult with no children to meet basic expenses. That figure would move above $17 even if inflation is low over the next five years.
The $7.25 federal minimum wage currently prevails in 20 states: Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming. There is no state minimum wage in five of these states – Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee – and in Georgia and Wyoming, the minimum wage is just $5.15, so the federal $7.25 minimum wage applies.
“Stuck at just $7.25 an hour since 2009, the minimum wage is a poverty wage instead of an anti-poverty wage. That’s bad for business as well as for workers,” said Holly Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “Minimum wage increases don’t stay in workers’ pockets. They boost the consumer spending that drives business and the economy. Fair wages also help businesses hire and retain employees and deliver the reliable product quality and customer service that leads to repeat customers instead of lost customers. Raising the minimum wage will strengthen businesses and our economy.”
Aaron Seyedian, owner of Well-Paid Maids in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia and New York, represented Business for a Fair Minimum Wage at the introduction of the Raise the Wage Act in Congress today. He said, “An eroded minimum wage hurts workers, businesses and our economy. We never experienced the worker shortages affecting low-pay businesses. People want to work for us, and our low turnover saves us a lot of money and time. We’ve doubled in size over the last year. Hiring workers who didn’t earn enough in their previous jobs, I’ve seen firsthand how higher wages improve lives and go right back into communities and the economy. Employees repair cars, secure decent housing, buy needed clothes, appliances and school supplies, celebrate occasions at restaurants, enroll children in daycare, and much more. Unfortunately, too many businesses are churning through workers instead of investing in workers. Raising the federal minimum wage to $17 and indexing it in future years will be a vital investment in our economy.”
Adam Orman, owner of L’Oca d’Oro Restaurant in Austin, Texas, said, “It is past time for an increase to the federal minimum wage. Raising the floor to $17 makes good sense. We already pay a starting wage of at least $17, and the multi-year phase-in period in the Raise the Wage Act gives plenty of time for other businesses to adjust. Paying a living wage is key to attracting and retaining the employees who provide the excellent service that keeps our customers coming back. Raising the minimum wage will allow hospitality workers to thrive without depending on tips to pay rent and monthly expenses. That’s stability that our community deserves.”
Camille Moran, owner of 4 Seasons Christmas Tree and Plant Farm in Natchitoches, Louisiana, said, “Every year the minimum wage stays stuck at $7.25 is an insult to people trying to make a living. Everyone needs a minimum wage that buys the basics. Local businesses like mine need customers who can afford what we are selling. Under the new legislation, the minimum wage wouldn’t jump overnight. Businesses would have time to gradually raise wages and experience benefits like reduced employee turnover and increased consumer spending. Our nation needs this raise.”
Rebecca Hamilton, co-owner of W.S. Badger Company in Gilsum, New Hampshire, said, “Badger has thrived in rural New Hampshire because we’ve invested in our employees. People want to work for us and it shows in everything we produce. New Hampshire’s $7.25 minimum wage is far too low for anyone to live on in our state or anywhere else. It’s bad for business and bad for communities when the minimum wage leaves people working full time in poverty. We welcome the new legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $17.”
Johnny Martinez, co-owner of Joystick Gamebar, By Weight and Measure bar, and Mambo Zombi in Atlanta, Georgia, said, “It’s a shame that after 14 years of broken promises, this country still hasn’t raised the federal minimum wage. The cost of living goes up year after year and with no increase in the minimum wage, people keep falling behind. We can’t afford to keep doing nothing. Raising the minimum wage puts money in people’s pockets and that money gets put directly into the economy. A higher minimum wage leads to better customer service, higher sales, and an overall stronger business. Raising the minimum wage is good for small businesses because it’s good for people. This increase is long overdue.”
Among the 30 states plus D.C. that are above the federal level, 19 states and D.C. have indexing and annually adjust their minimum wage for increases in the cost of living. Fourteen states plus D.C. are currently at $15 or higher, or are phasing in scheduled increases to $15 or higher: D.C., California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia (where the General Assembly must re-enact the final steps to $15) and Washington State. For example, Washington State is currently at $15.74 and D.C. is at $17 – with future annual increases. New York is phasing in $17, Hawaii is phasing in $18, and more states are expected to pass legislation or ballot measures raising their minimum wage to at least $17 or higher in coming years.
Gradually increasing the federal minimum wage to $17 will enable workers in states stuck at the federal minimum wage to make a living and reinforce momentum in states currently above the federal minimum to establish a decent wage floor.
About Business for a Fair Minimum Wage
Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a national network of business owners and executives and business organizations that believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense. Follow us on Twitter at @MinimumWageBiz