New legislation introduced last month aims to increase the federal minimum wage to $15, which could lift the wages of nearly 32 million Americans.
Late last month, House Representatives Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), as well as Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), introduced the Raise the Wage Act of 2021, which would gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 by 2025.
The federal minimum wage has not risen since 2009, although many states have increased state minimums. Most recently, Florida voted during the November elections to increase the state's minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026. There are still 21 states where the minimum wage remains frozen at $7.25.
By raising the minimum wage on a national level, about 21% of the U.S. workforce — or about 32 million people — would see a raise, according to recent research by the Economic Policy Institute.
In the map below, EPI looks at each congressional district and shows the share of workers that would be affected by a $15 federal minimum wage. Unsurprisingly, the share of workers impacted by this legislation hits the highest levels (above 40%) in districts in states that have not increased their minimums beyond the federal requirement, including Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas.
Some districts within states that have raised their minimum wages slightly, but still below $10 per hour, such as Nevada and New Mexico, also saw a significant share of impacted workers hit above 40%.
In addition to raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, the legislation would also gradually phase out the lower minimum wage requirements for tipped workers. The federal minimum for tipped minimum wage employees has remained steady at $2.13 since 1991.
Opponents of the $15 minimum wage argue that businesses will not be able to afford the higher base pay, which could lead to job losses. In fact, recent research finds that federal legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour nationwide would result in the loss of 2 million jobs. The food service, art, entertainment, and recreation and accommodation sectors would account for half of those projected job losses.
Yet advocates argue the increase is needed because wages are simply not keeping up with day-to-day costs. By 2024, a single adult will need to earn at least $15 an hour, a gross income of roughly $31,200 per year, to achieve an adequate standard of living nationwide, according to a report from the National Employment Law Project. In some areas, such as New York and California, this is already the minimum required.
The table below shows exactly how the $15 minimum wage legislation would impact each congressional district.