In recent years, the call for a higher minimum wage has gained momentum across the service industry. Various movements, like the renowned “Fight for $15,” have successfully resulted in wage increases for millions of workers. However, with the ever-rising cost of living in many cities, there is a growing need for more substantial wage adjustments.
Acknowledging this, Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Bobby Scott introduced the Raise the Wage Act of 2023, which aims to raise the federal minimum wage significantly.
A Bold Proposal: From $7.25 to $17 Per Hour
The Raise the Wage Act of 2023 proposes a significant change, aiming to increase the federal minimum wage from the current rate of $7.25 per hour to $17 per hour by 2028. The bill seeks to address the long-standing issue of inadequate wages and uplift the living standards of full-time workers across the country. Senator Scott emphasized that no person working full-time should be living in poverty, making it clear that the proposed increase is a necessary step towards fair compensation.
Moreover, Sanders highlighted the gravity of the situation, referring to the existing $7.25 hourly wage as a “starvation wage.” He pointed out that if the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity over the last 50 years, it would have reached an impressive $23 per hour. The proposed raise is seen as a critical measure to address income inequality and provide workers with a more sustainable livelihood.
Economic Implications and City-Level Initiatives
According to the Economic Policy Institute, the Raise the Wage Act would lead to a collective $86 billion increase in annual wages for minimum-wage workers over the next five years. The bill goes beyond raising the minimum wage; it aims to eliminate the tipped sub-minimum wage over seven years and gradually eliminate the sub-minimum wage for workers with disabilities and youth workers over five and seven years, respectively. These measures are expected to have a profound impact on workers’ well-being and financial security.
While the federal bill awaits further deliberation, some cities have taken the lead in raising the minimum wage for specific groups of workers. For instance, New York City recently set a precedent by increasing the minimum wage to $17.96, excluding tips, for app-based food delivery workers. Several other states, including New Jersey, Alaska, Florida, and Washington, have also embraced higher minimum wages since 2013.
If the Raise the Wage Act garners enough support and passes into law, it could have a nationwide impact. The remaining states may follow suit and raise their minimum wages, creating a more equitable economic landscape for workers across the United States.
The Raise the Wage Act of 2023 presents a bold vision to rectify income disparities and enhance the livelihoods of hardworking individuals. As policymakers and citizens engage in discussions about the bill’s implications, it is essential to consider the potential benefits it offers, while also acknowledging the need for thoughtful measures to ensure a thriving and sustainable food industry that supports all its workers.
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