WA Rep. Jayapal confident $15 minimum wage will stay in COVID relief package

Feb 22, 2021, 11:54 AM
Jayapal minimum wage, Seattle City Council...
(AP file photo)
(AP file photo)

Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal expressed confidence on Sunday that a plan to raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour will remain in the current COVID-19 relief package being considered in Congress.

Jayapal: $15 minimum wage will bring US ‘up to standard Seattle set’

Speaking to CNN, Jayapal pointed out that the federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised since 2009, and that expecting families to subsist on wages that haven’t risen in accordance with inflation isn’t realistic.

She also touted the relative success Seattle has seen with its own $15 minimum wage.

“It is good for communities and it’s good for businesses,” she said. “I know because we were the first major city in Seattle to raise the minimum wage to 15 [dollars an hour]. In 2018 and 2019, Forbes ranked us the best place in the country for businesses and careers.”

The minimum wage increase being considered in Congress would phase in gradually, starting by raising minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.50 an hour in 2021, to $11 an hour in 2022, $12.50 in 2023, $14 an hour in 2024, and then finally $15 an hour in 2025.

UW study: Raising minimum wage requires ‘nuanced’ approach

As for whether it will make it through the House as part of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package currently under consideration, Jayapal believes chances are good.

“I think it’s going to be included, and I think that we’re going to have to fight hard for it,” she said.

The stimulus bill is expected to go to the House floor for a vote sometime this week, but could struggle to make headway in the Senate, where Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have indicated that they will not support the minimum wage increase.

A recent study released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the proposed minimum wage increase has the potential to lift 900,000 Americans above the poverty line, but could also cost the country 1.4 million jobs between now and 2025.

Other studies done in Seattle have found that businesses most often respond to mandated wage increases by reducing staff numbers and hours.

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WA Rep. Jayapal confident $15 minimum wage will stay in COVID relief package