A group of seventy-five leading economists signed a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders in support of raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour by 2016.
The letter, released by the Economic Policy Institute, endorses a Democratic proposal to raise the minimum wage by ninety-five cents a year over the next three years, and then to tie further increases to inflation. The plan, which is sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative George Miller (D-CA), received the support of President Obama in November.
The letter’s signees, including seven Nobel laureates, say the Miller-Harkin plan would increase the wages of close to 17 million low-wage workers.
“The vast majority of employees who would benefit are adults in working families, disproportionately women, who work at least 20 hours a week and depend on these earnings to make ends meet,” the letter reads, “At a time when persistent high unemployment is putting enormous downward pressure on wages, such a minimum-wage increase would provide a much-needed boost to the earnings of low-wage workers.”
The letter also disputes claims that an increase would have an adverse affect on employment of minimum-wage workers. A recent analysis by the EPI determined that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would grow the US economy by about $22 billion and create 85,000 new jobs. The study also found that the Miller-Harkin proposal would bring the minimum-wage value, adjusted for inflation, back to that of the late 1960s:
Source: Economic Policy Institute
A December Wall Street Journal/NBC poll revealed that 63 percent of Americans support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.