Rashida Tlaib says the federal minimum wage should be $18 to $20 per hour, not just $15 as many Democrats are pushing for.
Tlaib made the comments on Sunday while she served food at a One Fair Wage event at COLORS restaurant in Detroit.
The $15 per hour minimum wage campaign started around five years ago, and Tlaib is making the case that $20 per hour is now more appropriate when factoring in increasing living costs, inflation, etc.
She made sure that America Rising, a Republican political action committee that was at the event, heard her comments. Republicans generally oppose any increase to the minimum wage.
"By the way, when we started it, it should have been $15. Now I think it should be $20. Make sure America Rising hears that. It should be $20 an hour — $18 to $20 an hour at this point," Tlaib said.
Naturally, Republican ghouls and pundits who want to keep poor people working for unlivable wages so CEOs and other executives can continue to take home hefty salaries squawked and screeched at the idea.
They pointed out that the Congressional Budget Office wrote that the economy could shed 1.3 million jobs if the minimum wage were raised to $15 per hour. That much is true.
But the CBO also notes that 95 percent of American workers would get a pay increase. Meanwhile other studies in places where the minimum wage has been raised to $15 per hour have found that most of those losing jobs are in the lowest income bracket. Those jobs already have a high turnover rate, and most people who lose their jobs are finding new jobs at a higher rate. In other words, everyone ends up getting up paid more.
In fact, the restaurant industry is adding jobs in Seattle, where the minimum wage is now $15 per hour nearly across the board. That comes after critics and restaurant owners fought tooth and nail against the minimum wage increase, claiming restaurants would close shop and people in Seattle would be forced to cook for themselves. From Vox:
Generally, those business owners who threatened to leave Seattle to evade the new wage haven’t been following through. “The restaurant industry moans and groans about minimum wage increase, but the Seattle newspaper every month has a story about 40 new restaurants opening,” said Jennifer Romich, a University of Washington social policy researcher. (According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs in restaurants and bars in the Seattle area has grown from 134,000 to 158,000 since 2015.) Surveying employers, Romich and other researchers found the most common response to the wage increase was to raise prices or fiddle with workers’ hours, and a “very small percentage were thinking about withdrawing or leaving the city.”
Vox notes that some workers saw their hours reduced when their wages went up, so their pay essentially remained the same — must be terrible to have to work less and earn the same amount of money.
"Ultimately, workers already employed either saw their take-home pay go up or stay roughly the same while working fewer hours," Vox wrote.
It's also worth noting that polls have consistently found for the last two years that a majority of Americans support a $15 per hour minimum wage.
The U.S. House on Thursday passed a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour by a 231-199 margin. The Republican-controlled Senate likely will not approve the measure.
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