A bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 was introduced in the House and Senate on January 16.
H.R. 582 would gradually increase the wage from $7.25, and then adjust it annually. The Raise the Wage Act, introduced by Rep. Bobby Scot (D- VA-3), would also phase out subminimum wages for tipped workers and workers with disabilities.
Critics of the legislation say small businesses will be burdened, jobs will be eliminated and workers’ hours will be cut. Proponents claim the increase in pay for low-wage earners will help boost the economy through increased spending power.
The last increase to the federal minimum wage was enacted in 2007. Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C., currently have a minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum.
Nineteen states increased their minimum wage at the start of 2019: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Washington.
New rates will take effect in July for employees in Oregon and Washington, D.C.
Drew Gruenburg is the chief operating officer of the Society of American Florists.