Cantwell Cosponsors Legislation to Gradually Raise Federal Minimum Wage to $15 by 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Patty Murray (D-WA), and other Senate and House leaders in introducing the Raise the Wage Act of 2019. The bill would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2024, index future minimum wage increases to median wage growth, and ensure all workers are paid at least the full federal minimum wage by phasing out the subminimum wages for tipped workers, youth workers, and workers with disabilities. 

“It’s time for Congress to put working Americans before corporations and raise the national minimum wage,” Senator Cantwell said. “In Washington state, we have the highest minimum wage and one of the fastest-growing economies in the country. Our state is proof that we can simultaneously grow our economy and ensure workers are paid a living wage.” 

The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009, and the bill introduced today would give nearly 40 million low-wage workers a raise, increasing the wages of almost 30 percent of the U.S. workforce. A $15 minimum wage by 2024 would generate $144 billion in higher wages for workers, benefiting their local economies. 

While labor productivity has more than doubled since the late 1960s, pay has either stagnated or fallen since the 1970s, particularly for low-wage workers. The average minimum-wage worker today has less buying power than in the 1960s, and the purchasing power of the minimum wage has declined nearly 15 percent since the last minimum wage increase. 

At the same time, income for those at the top has skyrocketed. The richest one percent of earners have seen their income grow by 15 percent since 2009 and by more than 130 percent since the late 1960s. 

The bill will also gradually eliminate the loophole that allows tipped workers and workers with disabilities to be paid substantially less than the federal minimum wage, bringing it to parity with the regular minimum wage. Moreover, it would also phase out the youth minimum wage, that allows employers to pay workers under 20 years old a lower wage for the first 90 calendar days of work. 

The legislation was introduced today in the Senate with 31 cosponsors. Companion legislation introduced in the House has 181 cosponsors. 

To read the full text of the bill, click HERE.

More information about the legislation is available HERE.