The House voted to pass legislation, on Thursday, that would gradually increase the national minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025.
The bill, known as the “Raise the Wage Act,” passed with a vote of 231-199 and followed party lines, for the most part, with only six Democrats opposing the bill, and three Republicans voting in support.
A more liberal faction among Democrats pushed for the figure of $15 per hour as a minimum to be enforced nationally across all job sectors. More centrist Democrats, however, succeeded in lobbying to make wage increases gradual over the next six years. Thursday’s bill represents a compromise between the two groups.
The movement to increase the federal minimum wage is not new. California Governor Jerry Brown signed state legislation in 2016 that put the state on track to pay $15 minimum wage by 2022, through gradual increases. The minimum wage in California is currently $11. Minimum wage still varies by state, with the highest minimum wage being paid in the District of Columbia at $13.25 per hour. Numerous other states require only $7.25 per hour, while several southern states have no minimum wage.
While the purpose of an increased minimum wage is intended to improve earnings for low-wage workers, it may actually have the opposite effect if instead service businesses have to cut jobs, rather than meet the required page hike.
As reported by Forbes, the minimum-wage increase in California has resulted in a number of businesses closing, reducing staff, or leaving the state. Affected businesses include a number of restaurants, other service businesses, and even some childcare centers.
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) expressed concerns during floor debate that the minimum-wage hike might prove to be detrimental to both businesses and workers. “An increases of this magnitude could harm American businesses, could harm American consumers and certainly will harm American workers,” Burgess explained. “The legislation does not consider the labor market, it disincentives job growth, and has the potential to leave nearly 4 million workers unemployed.”
The ‘Raise the Wage Act’ still requires passage in the Republican-controlled Senate, and it may not be reviewed before the end of the year.