U.S. workers’ “fair salary spring” gained more momentum late last week when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a deal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in New York City and its suburbs just days after California did the same. And it’s not stopping there.
New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. are among the jurisdictions seriously weighing an increase to $15 an hour as well. And the push to do so, fueled by the Teamster-backed “Fight for $15,” isn’t stopping there. With polls showing 59 percent of Americans support such a standard, there is no reason not to push forward.
Opponents of such a move have often complained that such an increase would lead to significant job losses. But as the Washington Post noted, “studies show that minimum wage hikes to date have not meaningfully affected employment. Even $15 in a few years is not likely to change that, they point out. And besides, at higher wage levels, lower turnover costs would allow businesses to retrain staff, and the increased disposable income for low-wage workers would create more jobs in the community.”
This grass-roots movement is gaining steam in part because it finally has the attention of political leaders. As candidates hit the campaign trail ahead of the November elections, they see the state of hard-working Americans. They are struggling due to low wages even as the nation is seemingly rebounding from its past economic woes.
Will this be the year that elected officials from coast-to-coast take this war against poor wages seriously? Results at the ballot box will be affected one way or the other.