2020 is hopefully looking to be the year of more sustainable living. Americans often set the goal to live a healthier life going into the new year, and with climate change being the worst it’s ever been many are also trying to live a greener one as well. However, a drawback for both of these major goals is the expense. Going to a gym, buying healthier/organic foods, and buying green/sustainable products in general can add up. Nonetheless, this year, minimum wage is finally seeing the raise that so many have fought for, and for working class Americans, this can make or break monthly expenses.
By the end of 2020, 72 jurisdictions within the United States, so far, will see a minimum wage increase of $15 an hour, or more, depending on location. Starting on January 1st 2020, increases in minimum wage took place in 20 states and 26 cities and counties throughout the entire US. Most of the city-wide increases were made in California, according to sources.
“The minimum wage will increase in 21 states and 26 cities and counties. In 17 of those jurisdictions, the minimum wage will reach or surpass $15 per hour. Later in 2020, four more states and 23 additional localities will also raise their minimum wages—15 of them to $15 or more. This is the greatest number of states and localities ever to raise their wage floors. These increases will put much-needed money into the hands of the lowest-paid workers,” wrote Yannet Lathrop, a researcher with the National Employment Law Project, a Washington DC-based workers rights group.
The federal minimum wage was declared as $7.25 an hour back in 2009, and so was the birth of working class activist group “Fight for 15.” Even back then, ten years ago, the group was fighting for a $15 an hour minimum wage, meaning a federal doubling of the then declared wage. The journey has been an obviously long one, but now, the group can hold their heads up high at the massive change that will be occurring within America in 2020.
Of the 20 states and 26 counties that had the increase in wage go into effect this week, most saw a change into $15 or more, others didn’t get as much, as the increase is all based on the jurisdiction of each county. However, most places saw a dramatic increase in hourly wage regardless.
The “Fight for 15” movement didn’t get any mainstream attention until back in 2015, when presidential candidate Bernie Sanders vocalized his support for the group and introduced his own personal legislation plans that would change the entire federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“Congratulations to the 47 states and localities that are raising the minimum wage today—the largest number of jurisdictions in history,” Senator Sanders tweeted Monday (12/30/19).
Back in the beginning of 2019, when fast food workers in New York City were granted the right to $15 an hour wages, a new and growing concern has lingered alongside this otherwise monumental moment. McDonald’s began installing self-service ordering machines in their restaurants, which allowed the company to hire fewer on-the-floor employees to pay the increased wage. Many have voiced their concern over an increase in hourly wage leading to an overall decrease in employment.
The United States’ Congressional Budget Office performed an extensive study on the effect that an increase in wage would have on employment. The study concluded that, on a federal level, an increase in minimum wage to $15 an hour would result in a 1.3% loss of overall employment, which would equate to .8% of the current workforce in America today.
Currently, every single leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate supports a $15 minimum wage, and has implemented it as a part of their campaign. With such a massive amount of the country making the change within the next year, it wouldn’t be surprising if the federal minimum wage also got an upgrade some time soon.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.