On Thursday, Senator Patty Murray and Rep. Bobby Scott introduced the Raise the Wage Act in Congress. The legislation would raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour and eliminate the tipped wage by 2020. The federal minimum wage would increase from $7.25 to $8 in 2016 (still below Ohio’s current minimum wage of $8.10), then by an additional $1 each year until 2020. After that, it would continue to rise as it would be indexed to the nation’s median wage.
The plan would raise the wage for over 1.4 million Ohio workers and add $4.3 billion to the state’s economy over five years. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reports that the legislation would result in a pay increase for nearly 29 percent of Ohio’s workforce, including 44 percent of African Americans and nearly a quarter of workers age 55 and older.
The proposal would be particularly meaningful for Ohio’s women and families. According to the EPI analysis, 62 percent of those who would see their wages go up are women. 43 percent of the state’s single moms would get a raise. And under a $12 minimum wage, 23 percent of the children in Ohio would see their family income grow.
Raising the wage has the additional benefit of reducing reliance on public assistance. The UC Berkeley Labor Center estimates that taxpayers spend nearly $153 billion each year on public support for workers making poverty wages. Over half of fast-food workers or their dependents are enrolled in one of four major public assistance programs.