Keeping an eye on the $15 an hour minimum wage

Posted on 02-19-2021


Businesses are keeping close tabs on a  $15 an hour federal minimum wage proposal now before Congress.

The legislation would more than double the $7.25 an hour federal base wage by  2025. Tipped wages would be eliminated.

The National Restaurant Association came out swinging with a poll indicating that members would cut hours and the number of staffers as the minimum wage increases and the industry claws back from coronavirus.

Opponents are also  focused on the upward pressure of a higher minimum wage on more experienced employees and supervisors. Many workers in retail, hospitality, and other areas already earn $15 an hour or less in supervisory positions.

In Delaware, the minimum wage has been increasing since 2009 and will rise from $9.25   to $10.25 in October. We can expect another push to $15 from a General Assembly now tilting further to the left.

The current legislation, a product of compromises after opposition from business groups and non-profits, comes with a slightly lower youth and training wage.

One side effect has been a degree of confusion in the online world, with some websites listing a $10.25, 2021 minimum wage for Delaware.

As things stand,  phasing in a $15 federal minimum wage would have a minimal initial impact on Delaware employers. Neighboring Pennsylvania would seem to be a different story, although the percentage of workers earning $7.25 an hour is a measly  2.6 percent.

Wrestling with the issue is President Biden, who has expressed support for the $15 an hour figure if the base wage is raised in phases.  He also acknowledged that small employers have a right to be concerned, hinting that he is open to compromise.

The fate of a $15 an hour bill remains unclear in the U.S.  Senate, with at least a couple of Democrats expressing their doubts.

One common-sense approach would be to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour to account for the rise in the cost of living and leave the issue of further increases to states. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.