Eight Years Since Last Federal Minimum Wage Increase, 21 States Remain Stuck at $7.25

New analysis shows that 20+ million workers in those 21 states would get raises from increasing federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024; 41+ million workers in total would see pay gains.

New York, NY — On the eighth anniversary of the last increase in the federal minimum wage, a new analysis shows that Congressional Democrats’ legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would deliver an outsized share of pay increases to workers in states with the lowest minimum wages, including more than 20 million workers in the 21 states whose minimum wages are still stuck at the federal minimum of $7.25.

The analysis, from the National Employment Law Project, based on data and estimates from researcher David Cooper of the Economic Policy Institute, shows that by raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024, as proposed in the Raise the Wage Act of 2017:

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  • 20.7 million workers would see pay raises in the 21 states whose minimum wages are stuck at $7.25.
  • Fully half of the 41.5 million workers who would see pay increases are in the 21 states stuck at $7.25.
  • In the 13 other states with minimum wages of less than $9, nearly 13 million more workers also would see their hourly pay rise.
  • Of all the workers nationwide who would receive raises, 8 in 10 are in the 34 states with the lowest minimum wages.
  • In 19 of the 21 states at $7.25, more than 30 percent of wage-earners would benefit from raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024; the highest share is in Mississippi, with 44.4 percent.
  • In each of seven of the 21 states at $7.25 (Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia), more than one million workers would see their hourly pay increase by raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024; the highest number of affected workers is in Texas, at 4,687,000.

“The federal minimum wage is supposed to provide a meaningful standard to ensure that workers everywhere in the country are paid at least an adequate wage to meet their basic needs. But with the federal minimum wage stuck now for eight years at a poverty-level of $7.25 per hour, it is falling far short of that critical role. Instead, at such an appallingly low wage level, it’s being used as a weight to suppress workers’ wages,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project.

“Many in Congress and in state legislatures who, year after year, refuse to even consider raising the wage floor for America’s lowest-paid workers are doing immense harm to tens of millions of workers who struggle in poverty despite working hard. It’s noteworthy and completely outrageous that 17 of the 21 states stuck at the $7.25 federal minimum wage have enacted preemption laws that prohibit their own cities and counties from adopting higher minimum wages—walling off local elected governments from pursuing minimum wage increases,” added Owens.

“Here’s a novel idea for Republican leaders in Congress, most of whom hail from states among those stuck at the $7.25 minimum wage: Instead of spinning your wheels trying to hurt tens of millions of Americans by stripping away their health care coverage, take up the Raise the Wage Act and help improve the lives of tens of millions of workers.”

“Indeed, with recent cost-of-living projections showing that, by 2024, workers in every state and every corner of the country will need at least a $15 full-time hourly wage to afford the basics, we must find the means to move the U.S. Congress to act for all of America’s workers. It’s been eight years since the last federal minimum wage increase. That’s eight years too long. It’s time for a $15 federal minimum wage. Workers will fight for that in Congress; and they’ll keep fighting, regardless of the outcome—until they win.”

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT:  The 21 States Stuck at $7.25

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