July 18, 2019-
The House of Representatives passed a long-overdue increase in the federal minimum wage Thursday. The bill would raise the wage floor from its current $7.25 an hour, where it has been stuck for a decade (the longest period on record without an increase), to $15 by 2025. Unfortunately, now it will almost surely die in the Senate.
That might be the end of the story for certain national policies, like defense spending, but it’s not the last word for minimum wage increases. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be. That’s because over the past few decades, 29 states (and the District) and more than 40 cities or counties have raised their minimums above the federal level. In most parts of New York state, the minimum is $11.10; in New York City, it’s $15 for most businesses. In California, the state wage floor is $12; in San Francisco, it’s $15.59. From the perspective of low-wage workers, such state and local action provides critical relief from a dysfunctional federal system that lately seems focused on solving the problem that the rich don’t have enough, and the poor have too much. Unleashing local power on behalf of those left behind by D.C. gridlock is increasingly essential.