Congressman Lowenthal Helps Introduce $15 Per Hour Federal Minimum Wage Bill

July 22, 2015
Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today joined with Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-05), and 29 House Members to introduce new legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Roughly 62 million U.S. workers make less than $15 per hour, including more than 50 percent of African-American workers and close to 60 percent of Latino workers.  About half (46 percent) of workers making less than $15 per hour are age 35 or older.

The Pay Workers a Living Wage Act would raise the federal minimum wage in four steps over four years, ending with a $15 minimum wage four years from the date of passage.

"Hard-working Americans deserve to make a living wage and not be relegated to subsistence wages providing only the bare necessities for eating, sleeping, and getting to work with no opportunity to obtain the American Dream. No American should be forced into the harsh spiral of paying to work and working to pay," Congressman Lowenthal said. "We are the most prosperous nation on the planet and we can do better."

American workers are among the most productive in the world, but in most industries the share of revenues going to wages has dropped, while the share going to profits has soared.  If the minimum wage had been raised since 1968 at the same rate as inflation and productivity -- i.e., the rate at which the average worker produces income for the employer -- it would be $26 per hour.

Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have already raised their minimum wage to $15.  Similar increases are being considered in other cities and states across the country, including: Washington, DC; Sacramento, CA; Olympia, WA; Kansas City, MO; Delaware; and Massachusetts.

A national poll released in January 2015 showed that 63 percent of Americans -- representing all demographics -- support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

To read the full text of the bill, click here.