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What’s in a $12 minimum wage?

Tim Fitzsimons Apr 24, 2015
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Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, is expected to introduce a new proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. 

Why $12? President Barack Obama used his 2013 State of the Union address to call for raising it from $7.25, its current rate, to $9 an hour. But in his 2014 address, he bumped that up to $10.10 an hour. “$10.10,” the President said. “It’s easy to remember $10.10.”

In the meantime, a fast food workers’ movement has been pushing for a $15 an hour wage, and Chicago and Seattle raised theirs to $13 and $15, respectively.

“The good news is … we are going to learn more about how local labor markets adjust to higher minimum wages,” says Arindrajit Dube, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

That’s because Chicago and Seattle’s hikes will be the highest ever in the U.S.

As for Senator Murray’s $12 minimum wage bill: it would increase 75 cents to $8 in 2016, then a dollar more each year until it reaches $12 in 2020. 

Gary Burtless, an economist with the Brookings Institution, says it’s unlikely to pass in this congress, but “very large majorities of the public believe the minimum wage is too low and we would be better off if we raised it.” 

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