STATEMENT: CAP’s Neera Tanden Praises the Raise the Wage Act, Which Would Establish a $15 Minimum Wage by 2024

Washington, D.C. — Today, Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate introduced the Raise the Wage Act, which would gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024 and give roughly 40 million Americans a raise. Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, released the following statement in response:

The introduction of the Raise the Wage Act in both houses of Congress—and the commitment from leaders in the U.S. House to advance this legislation without delay—is a clear sign that we have turned the page in Washington. Unlike the House majority from the previous Congress, which spent its time passing tax cuts for the wealthy and doling out favors to its corporate friends, this new majority is laser-focused on boosting workers’ wages and building an economy that works for everyone. The Raise the Wage Act will do exactly that by gradually boosting the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024. Critically, this legislation will also promote equity by eliminating discriminatory subminimum wages for tipped workers and for workers with disabilities.

Enactment of the Raise the Wage Act is long overdue; Congress has failed to take action to raise the minimum wage for nearly 12 years. And raising the minimum wage is not only good for workers but also good for the economy: More money in workers’ pockets means more dollars to be spent at neighborhood retailers and restaurants. Raising the minimum wage is also a key component of closing the pay gap for women, particularly for women of color who experience the largest pay gaps. Nearly two-thirds of workers who are paid the federal minimum wage are women, and women are increasingly the sole or primary breadwinners in their households.

The momentum for this legislation would not have been possible without the workers and on-the-ground leaders of the Fight for $15 movement who have led the charge on successful minimum wage ballot initiatives in cities and states across the United States. Now it’s time for Congress to do its job and show American workers that it is committed to economic prosperity for all workers, not just those at the top.

In 2018, a worker earning $7.25 per hour needed an extra 41 working days—more than eight weeks—just to take home the same pay that he or she did in a single year when the federal minimum wage was last increased. As a result, a full-time minimum wage earner lost $2,370 in purchasing power last year, according to a CAP analysis. That is more than 47 times greater than the average tax cut the same worker can expect from congressional Republicans’ Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted at the end of 2017.

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at apreiss@americanprogress.org or 202-478-6331.