The federal minimum wage in the United States has been set at $7.25 since 2009. While states are allowed to offer a high minimum wage than this, 20 states abide by the federal minimum. The highest minimum wage currently available in the United States can be found in Washington DC. Currently, the nation's capital has a minimum wage of $16.50.
There have been many attempts to raise the minimum wage since it was set 14 years ago. However, the proposals have been overwhelmingly rejected by bipartisan efforts. Congress, whose members make a salary of $174,000 a year, argues that there are too many severe economic consequences in raising the minimum. While many of these arguments have been debunked by economists, the Congressional view persists. This is joined by a public sentiment that primarily stems from discriminatory views of labor. A common argument heard in the discussion of raising the minimum wage is "Why should a burger flipper at McDonald's make $15 an hour?"
Bernie Leads New Charge To Raise The Minimum Wage
The last effort to raise the minimum wage came in 2021 with the Bernie Sanders-led "Raise the Wage Act". That bill was killed in both houses, including seeing 8 Democrat senators vote against the legislation. But Bernie is undeterred and is once again pushing to raise the minimum wage. "Nobody in this country can survive on $7.25. And maybe some of my colleagues in Congress might want to live for a month on seven-and-a-quarter and see what that's like," Sanders said.
Sanders' new proposal would go beyond his former proposal, instead raising the minimum wage to $17. However, even this might not be enough to actually tackle the crisis Sanders is trying to find a solution to. According to economists and economic forecasting, if the minimum wage had risen with inflation over the last four years, it should currently be around $25 an hour. Despite this, it remains to be seen if Sanders has the votes to push through the legislation. Unlike in 2021, the House is now controlled by the Republican party, and the Senate is essentially Republican-controlled, thanks to the prolonged absence of Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein.