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Washington, D.C. — June 24 will mark 14 years since the $7.25 federal minimum wage was last raised. A new Center for American Progress analysis finds that if the minimum wage had been $15 per hour in 2021, it would have increased the wages of 1 in 4 workers—nearly 40 million—and led to an annual wage increase as large as $8,000 for some of the lowest-wage earners.
In addition, a minimum wage of $17 per hour would have benefited 51 million workers in 2021, with the typical worker gaining a wage increase of around $1,000.
This new analysis examines how raising the federal minimum wage would help reduce gender, racial, and ethnic wage gaps; help workers afford basic essentials and emergency expenses; and strengthen the economic security of workers, particularly women, Black, and Latino workers who are overrepresented among those currently earning less than $15 per hour.
Workers making less than $15 per hour is quite common, even as states and cities raise their wages to partially compensate for federal inaction. In 2021, nearly 1 in 3 Black, non-Hispanic and around 1 in 3 Latino workers earned less than $15 per hour.
Even more startling, around 2 in 5 employed Latinas earn less than $15 per hour, putting them at greater risk of poverty and financial hardship. This analysis breaks down new data about how raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2021 would have made progress on closing the gender, racial, and ethnic wage gap, leading to the largest decline in Black women’s pay gap on record.
“Raising the minimum wage is an investment in growing the middle class. Increasing the minimum wage is an opportunity to ensure workers can afford basic living expenses and build their economic security,” said Rose Khattar, director of economic analysis and co-author of the column.
“Increasing the minimum wage is an investment in the middle class, helping more families reach economic stability. Workers shouldn’t have to worry if they can cover emergency medical expenses. Raising the minimum wage would help alleviate some of this financial stress,” said Sara Estep, associate director for the Women’s Initiative and co-author of the column.
Read the article: “Raising the Minimum Wage would be an Investment in Growing the Middle Class” by Rose Khattar, Sara Estep, and Lily Roberts