Press Releases

News from EPI Raising the Minimum Wage to $12 by 2020 Would Benefit 35 Million Workers

Today the Economic Policy Institute and the National Employment Law Project released a fact sheet, It’s Time to Raise the Minimum Wage, with detailed tables on the impact of raising the minimum wage to $12 by 2020 and indexing it to median wages thereafter. The fact sheet draws on data from a forthcoming paper by economic analyst David Cooper, Raising the Minimum Wage to $12 by 2020 Would Lift Wages for 35 Million American Workers.

Senator Patty Murray and Representative Robert “Bobby” C. Scott will reportedly introduce the Raise the Wage Act in the Senate and the House of Representatives next week. The Raise the Wage Act would raise the federal minimum wage to $12.00 an hour by 2020—by $0.75 to $8 an hour the first year, followed by $1.00 increases each year for the next four years. Starting in 2021, the minimum wage would be rise alongside average wages. The act would also gradually phase out the subminimum wage for tipped workers, which has been frozen at $2.13 since 1991.

According to EPI analysis, 35 million workers would benefit from this increase, including 19.6 million women. 35 percent of African American workers and 38 percent of Hispanic workers would receive wage increases. 89 percent of workers who would be affected by the Raise the Wage Act are 20 years old or older, 27.7 percent have children, and half have total family incomes of less than $40,000 a year. 45 percent of workers who would be affected by the Raise the Wage Act have at least some college experience.

The Raise the Wage Act would restore the minimum wage to its value relative to a typical worker’s wage in 1968, when the minimum wage was at its strongest. In percentage terms, the annual increases under the proposal are in line with past federal minimum wage increases. Raising the minimum wage to $12.00 over five years represents average annual increases of 10.6 percent. The average of all increases since 1961 is 11.7 percent a year.

This fact sheet is part of EPI’s Raising America’s Pay project, a multiyear research and public education initiative to make wage growth an urgent national policy priority. EPI President Lawrence Mishel and economic analyst David Cooper are available for interviews on the minimum wage and other topics.

This is a corrected version of a press release initially released on on April 24, 2015. A programming error did not correctly account for scheduled changes to state minimum wages in 2019 and 2020. Accounting for those changes doesn’t significantly change the overall picture or the demographic profile of workers affected by the federal minimum-wage bill, but does decrease the estimate of affected workers and the amount of their increased wages, as some workers previously expected to get a raise under the bill will already have higher wages from the increase in their state minimum wage.