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Higgins announces House passage of legislation to raise minimum wage to $15


Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced House passage of H.R. 582, the Raise the Wage Act, by a vote of 231-199. It's been more than a decade since the federal minimum wage was increased to $7.25 in 2009, the longest stretch between increases since the minimum wage was established in 1938. Due to inflation, in that time span the purchasing power of $7.25 has declined by 20%.

The long overdue increase from $7.25 to $15 would occur over a period of six years to $8.40 in 2019, $9.50 in 2020, $10.60 in 2021, $11.70 in 2022, $12.80 in 2023, $13.90 in 2023 and $15 in 2023, after which the wage would be indexed to median wage growth and adjust automatically without requiring additional legislation.

Congressman Higgins, who is a cosponsor of the legislation, spoke from the House floor in support of the bill and said: "Most economists believe that our country is suffering from a crisis of income inequality. It is virtually impossible for a working family to get by, let alone get ahead working a, or several, minimum wage jobs.  This Congress needs to promote the dignity of work, and that starts with increasing the value of that work and paying Americans a fair wage."

Higgins has called for a $15 minimum wage on the House floor in the past. He also cosponsored the Raise the Wage Act in the 115th Congress and supported other legislation to raise the minimum wage, including the Fair Minimum Wage Act in the 113th Congress.

New York State passed legislation that took effect in 2016 that raises the state minimum wage, which is currently $11.80/hour, to $15 gradually. In Western New York, that change is set to take effect some time after 2021. 29 states and Washington, D.C. have minimum wage laws that are higher than the federal minimum wage.

The Raise the Wage Act would impact the wages of roughly 34 million Americans. Giving families the economic security that comes with a fair wage will allow them to participate more in the economy, which benefits everyone. Additionally, its estimated that an increase to a $15/hour minimum wage would lift 1.3 million Americans out of poverty, including 600,000 children.

The legislation has been endorsed by organizations including United Steelworkers (USW), The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the National Education Association (NEA), National Women's Law Center, and more.

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