Biden's plan for a $15 minimum wage could mean one in 5 Americans earns more. Nearly a third of Black workers would get a raise, research suggests.

Biden's plan for a $15 minimum wage could mean one in 5 Americans earns more. Nearly a third of Black workers would get a raise, research suggests.
President Joe Biden is pushing for a $15 federal minimum wage.Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
  • About a fifth of US workers could see raises under a $15 federal minimum wage, research finds.
  • That includes nearly a third of Black American workers, the Economic Policy Institute says.
  • The wage bump, facing pushback, is part of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal.

Nearly 32 million Americans would earn more under President Joe Biden's proposal to more than double the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, according to calculations by the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank.

That represents about 21% of the US's total workforce.

Women, minorities, and frontline workers would benefit the most, it found.
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The EPI estimated that if the federal minimum wage were boosted to $15:
  • Nearly one-third of Black Americans and one-fourth of Latinos would get a raise.
  • Almost six in 10 people who benefit would be women. Black or Latina woman would account for one in four beneficiaries.
  • More than one-third of those working in residential or nursing-care facilities would earn more.
  • Many other frontline workers, including substitute teachers, nursing assistants, and home-health aides, would be paid more.

The EPI said minimum-wage increases in the 1960s led to a 20% reduction in the earnings gap between Black and white workers. Wage increases have also led to reductions in poverty and improved infant health, it said.

"It would change my life a lot," one worker, who previously worked 80-hour weeks across two jobs to support her six children, told Insider's Juliana Kaplan on Monday.
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In an opinion piece for Insider, a McDonald's worker in Memphis said her $10-an-hour wage was "nowhere near enough to cover basic necessities every month for me and my baby daughter."

Read more: Wealth-inequality critic and heiress Abigail Disney on Biden's $1.9 trillion rescue package: 'This stimulus is a moral imperative' Biden pushed for a $15 minimum wage during his campaign, and it is part of his $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal, though this has faced pushback from Republican senators.
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Biden also plans to sign an executive order in his first 100 days in office to ensure that federal contractors offer a $15 minimum wage alongside emergency paid leave, Brian Deese, his National Economic Council director, said.

Democrats are simultaneously pushing the move via the Raise the Wage Act, which seeks to lift the minimum wage incrementally to $15 an hour by 2025 and phase out the $2.13 minimum wage for tipped workers.

The federal minimum wage has not been raised in more than a decade. In 2019, the US House of Representatives passed a plan to incrementally raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, but the Senate rejected it.
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This push for a wage rise comes as states are boosting their own minimum wages. Twenty states increased their minimum wages at the start of 2021, and several more are set to see boosts in the coming months.

Companies are increasingly taking the matter into their own hands, too. Among those that have raised, or announced plans to raise, their hourly minimum wage to $15 or higher are Wayfair, Starbucks, Target, Amazon, and Costco.

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