via Yahoo! Finance, January 5, 2022
Paul Sonn, state policy program director at the National Employment Law Project, joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the minimum wage increases in 56 cities, counties, and states expected in 2022 and the outlook for the federal minimum wage.
– The minimum wage is going up this year in at least 25 states, many reaching or exceeding $15 an hour. And it’s happening even as the Federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour for well over a decade. Here to discuss is Paul Sonn, state policy program director at the National Employment Law Project. Paul, it’s good to see you here. I want to start with, why now? Why are these states raising their minimum wage? And has the pandemic sort of hastened the need to do so?
PAUL SONN: Yeah. Thank you. It absolutely the pandemic has hastened the need to raise wages for workers at the bottom. And we are seeing growing momentum for doing so in recent years. These raises that took effect this week and that combined with other scheduled for later this year are the largest wave of minimum wage raises that we’ve seen. A total of 81 states and cities will be raising their minimum wages.
And strikingly, 44 cities are raising their minimum wages above $15 an hour, some as high as $17.50. And they’re especially welcome right now because, as you know, workers nationwide are struggling more than ever with rapidly rising prices. And as you noted, it’s happening in the face of federal inaction. This is the longest we’ve gone without a federal minimum wage increase in US history since the minimum wage was adopted. And it’s really hurting the country.
And a big part of why it’s happening now is that this wave of action in the States is being led by underpaid workers of color themselves from essential industries. They’ve been organizing and demanding higher wages. And when this movement started, their call for a $15 minimum wage was dismissed as unrealistic. Now it’s becoming the reality for about half the country. And workers are now demanding even more and aiming higher as costs rise and as workers kind of communicate what they really need.
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