Contact: Cat Ulrich
firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 630-7839
July 20, 2021—Business owners across the country are calling for the $7.25 federal minimum wage to be increased, as July 24 marks 12 years since the last federal minimum wage raise in 2009. This is the longest period without a raise since the federal minimum wage was enacted in 1938 to help workers and businesses recover from the Great Depression.
“Stuck at just $7.25 an hour for 12 long years, the minimum wage has become a poverty wage instead of an anti-poverty wage,” said Holly Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “That hurts workers who can’t afford rent and other necessities, and it hurts businesses that count on customers with money to spend. The federal minimum wage was enacted to set a decent pay floor and help our nation recover from the Great Depression. Raising the minimum wage will help us build the widely shared recovery and more resilient economy we need now.
The national floor under wages in our consumer-driven economy was much stronger half a century ago. The federal minimum wage peaked in buying power in 1968, when the minimum wage was worth more than $12.50 in 2021 dollars, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator. Today, only D.C. and four states—California, Massachusetts, New York and Washington—have statewide minimum wage rates currently in effect that are greater than or equal to $12.50. Connecticut will join them with a minimum wage increase on August 1.
Twenty states have minimum wages no higher than the $7.25 federal level: 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. Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee have no state minimum wage while Georgia and Wyoming have a lower $5.15 minimum wage, so the federal minimum wage of $7.25 applies.
Workers and businesses in these states and many others with inadequate minimum wages are counting on a federal minimum wage increase. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Raise the Wage Act, which would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025, but the Senate has not followed suit. A growing Business for a Fair Minimum Wage coalition of nearly 1,000 businesses and business organizations nationwide is calling on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.
Jordan Scott, co-owner and chef of Machina Kitchen & ArtBar in Keene, New Hampshire, said, “Being a good employer is central to our recipe for success as a good restaurant and gathering place. We know that happier employees make for happier customers. The $7.25 minimum wage is a poverty wage, not a living wage. It leaves people in the food industry struggling to put food on their own table and keep a roof overhead. That hurts our local economies. It hurts the local farmers who depend on local restaurants like ours who do better when our communities do better. Let’s raise the minimum wage, level the playing field for restaurants and other businesses, and revitalize our economy.”
Ashraf Hijaz, owner of Beauty & Beyond, headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama with 28 locations across Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas, said, “In Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee, we don’t even have a state minimum wage. In Georgia, the minimum wage set by the state is just $5.15 and in Texas it’s $7.25. So we really need a federal minimum wage increase. Many of my customers are working for wages that are just too low. I know they would spend more money if they made more money. It’s time for Congress to follow the lead of Florida and other states and put the federal minimum wage on track to $15.”
Chrissy Jensen, owner of Domestica in Des Moines, Iowa, said, “We need to raise the minimum wage because people are struggling just to get by. All employees should have a sense of worth and a paycheck that reflects that. When wages are too low, everything is affected – home life, health, education and productivity on the job. Raising the minimum wage to $15 will give people some room to breathe. They’ll be better workers and better customers.”
Peter Barber, CEO of Two Dudes Painting Company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said, “We’ve been in business for 35 years, and our people are our most important asset. Fair pay has been fundamental to our success as we’ve grown to 65 employees. People take more pride in their work, are more reliable and productive, and provide better customer service. Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is stuck at the abysmal $7.25 federal rate. Raising the minimum wage to $15 will be good for businesses and communities across our state and our nation.”
Camille Moran, owner of 4 Seasons Christmas Tree and Plant Farm in Natchitoches, Louisiana, said, “The minimum wage was unlivable before the pandemic. It’s even more unlivable now. A $7.25 wage is terrible whether you work outdoors in rural Louisiana or at a downtown store or anywhere else. Our lowest paid employees already earn at least $12.50 an hour, and that’s good for our business. Raising the federal minimum wage is just what Louisiana needs.”
Steven Dyme, CEO of Flowers for Dreams with locations in Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee, said, “We’re proud to be among the first in the flower industry to raise our starting wage to $15 across the board. I would tell any other business leader to make the same decision, because the calculation is simple: If you treat your people well, they will help your business grow. Congress must raise the floor and raise the minimum to build a stronger economy for everyone.”
Adam Orman, owner/GM of L’Oca d’Oro Restaurant in Austin, Texas, said, “We knew before the pandemic that paying a living wage and investing in employees was better for our customers and better for our business. People need a wage they can live on and fair treatment whether they work service or in the kitchen. The Raise the Wage Act would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 and phase out the discriminatory tipped wage. That will help the restaurant industry change its broken model and rebuild for a more sustainable future.”
Momentum is growing in the states for a $15 minimum wage, but only Congress can raise the wage floor nationwide so millions of people and communities around the country are not left behind. On July 19, Delaware became the 10th state—joining California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island—to enact a $15 minimum wage with varied schedules of implementation. Virginia also passed a gradual increase to $15 but the General Assembly must re-enact the final steps before they can occur.
To schedule interviews with business owners and executives supportive of an increase in the federal minimum wage, contact Cat Ulrich at email@example.com or (202) 630-7839.
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. www.businessforafairminimumwage.org.