by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Academics, workers, and small business owners say the Democratic push to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour could cut 2 million jobs and hurt the workers lawmakers are claiming to help.
On Wednesday, Democrats led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) introduced a bill to raise the minimum wage wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 by 2024, while also eliminating the tipped wage credit by 2027.
“The current $7.25 an hour minimum wage is a starvation wage,” he said. “We’re going to have a minimum wage that is a living wage.”
Prof. David Macpherson, chairman of Trinity University’s economics department, said that such an increase would be unprecedented, but not in the manner Sanders describes. While only 3 percent of hourly workers work under the minimum wage today, the increase would instantly bring 44 percent of them under that umbrella. Despite that large increase, it would not alleviate the poverty rate as employers, particularly small businesses, eliminated jobs to offset the increased costs. Macpherson, using Congressional Budget Office methodology, found that 2 million jobs would be lost under a $15 rate with the most heavy losses coming in poorer states. …
… “So many of us in the industry identify as progressive and liberal and to see luminaries of the progressive movement stake a position that is anti-worker is daunting,” [Washington, D.C., bartender Valerie Graham] said.