EDITORIAL: Americans Need a Lot More Than a Minimum Wage ‘Raise’

In this Nov. 20, 2014, file photo, supporters of legislation that will raise the minimum wage in Illinois rally outside the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield Ill. Most Americans support increasing the minimum wage, as well as requiring employers to provide paid sick leave and parental leave, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. Proposals to increase the federal minimum wage, as well as to require employers to give paid leave to their employees, find few objections among Americans as a whole. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

The Obama administration proposed a raise in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 in 2013, continuing to call for an increase throughout his presidency. Then, in 2014, Seattle raised its minimum wage to $15, with San Francisco and Los Angeles quickly following suit. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made $15 the minimum wage for his state in 2016.

Meanwhile, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser successfully pushed through her “Fair Shot Minimum Wage Amendment Act,” now standing at $11.50/hour, which incrementally increases the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2020.

We believe these increases not only are long overdue but essential for low-wage workers, particularly those with families, if they hope to meet even their most basic needs. But now, a report recently released by the District’s Office of Revenue Analysis suggests that close to 2/3 of the pay increases will benefit citizens in D.C.’s bordering states of Virginia and Maryland, instead of District residents.

Further, the findings warn that the increase will result in a decrease in District jobs at a minimum of 1,200 by 2020, recommending that what’s needed is the creation of more good-paying jobs for those needing them the most rather than an artificially created minimum wage increase.

Nonetheless, we still believe that the District’s political leaders have made the right decision.

We find it difficult to lament over the loss of just over 1,000 jobs in the long run when compared to helping citizens find it a little easier to survive today. Even more, we’d like to see a consensus of economic experts brave enough, or insane crazy to go out on a limb and say $15/hour can suffice for a family of four — whether they live in Washington State, California, New York or the District of Columbia. They know that inflation eats up such minimal increases — at least in most of the country’s 50 states and the District.

So, pardon us if we don’t say thanks to those who believe they’ve done Americans a great big favor, particularly with looming tax breaks of more benefit to business owners and the wealthy and an affordable healthcare program that remains under fire in danger of total annihilation.

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