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Jayapal Applauds Passage of Raise the Wage Act

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Pramila Jayapal applauded the passage of the Raise the Wage Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill will gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 over six years, increasing pay for up to 33 million American workers including nearly 6,800 workers in Washington’s 7th District.

“I was honored to serve on the committee that drafted Seattle’s historic $15 minimum wage bill in 2014. Since then, unemployment has gone down, median household income has gone up and our city has become one of the best places to do business in America. Now it’s time for the federal government to follow Seattle’s lead and raise the wage nationwide,” said Rep. Jayapal.

“Raising the minimum wage isn’t just an economic justice issue; it’s a women’s issue and a racial justice issue. The majority of workers who would benefit from this wage hike are women. This increase would also disproportionately benefit black and Hispanic women. I am proud to have worked alongside workers who put themselves on the line and built a powerful movement to raise the wage across the country. House Democrats made a promise to raise wages for American workers. Today, we delivered.”

According to a recent highly intensive UC Berkeley study, Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance raised wages for low-paid workers without any negative impact on employment[1]. Low-wage Seattle workers’ wages went up while local food prices remained constant – indicating that workers had more access to healthy food, according to peer-reviewed research.[2] Today with the higher minimum wage, Seattle enjoys an unemployment rate of 3.3%, a household income growth rate of 4.7% and  restaurants are now one of the fastest growing industries, with 27,300 new food service jobs created in 2018 alone[3].

The Raise the Wage Act of 2019 would:

  • Gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 over the next six years, lifting millions of workers out of poverty, stimulating local economies, and restoring the value of minimum wage;
  • Index future increases in the federal minimum wage to median wage growth to ensure the value of minimum wage does not once again erode over time;
  • Guarantee tipped workers, youth workers and workers with disabilities are paid at least the full federal minimum wage by phasing out the subminimum wages that allow these workers to be paid below $7.25 an hour.
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[1] Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, University of California, Berkeley, “The New Wave of Local Minimum Wage Policies: Evidence from Six Cities” (2018)

[2] International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “The Impact of a City-Level Minimum Wage Policy on Supermarket Food Prices by Food Quality Metrics: A Two-Year Follow Up Study” (2019)

[3] The Seattle Times, “4 latest Seattle restaurant closures — and the back-of-the-napkin math on our crazy industry in 2018” (2019)