"The economic unity of the workers must first be effected before there can be any progress towards emancipation. The interests of the millions of wage workers are identical, regardless of nationality, creed, or sex, and if they will only open their eyes to this simple, self-evident fact, the greatest obstacle will have been overcome and the day of victory draw near."
― Eugene Debbs
- More than 53 million people, or 44% of all workers ages 18 to 64 in the United States, earn low hourly wages. More than half (56%) are in their prime working years of 25-50, and this age group is also the most likely to be raising children (43%)
- About 1.2 million workers have wages below the federal minimum
- Among women across all races and ethnicities, hourly earnings lag behind those of white men and men in their own racial or ethnic group
- In 2015, average hourly wages for Black and Hispanic men were $15 and $14, respectively, compared with $21 for white men
- According to the Economic Policy Institute, raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025 would increase the salary of 20% of wage-earning Americans
- A higher minimum wage than the federal minimum applies in many parts of the United States, due to local legislation
Organizations Addressing the Need for Living Wages
- National Employment Law Project (NELP)
- Economic Policy Institute (EPI)
- Political Economy Research Institute (PERI)
- Los Angeles Alliance for the New Economy (LAANE)
- Good Jobs First
- Fight For $15
- Rebecca Rainey | Politico | "Democrats renew fight for $15 minimum wage as Sanders vows passage" (January, 2021)
- Kim Kelly | Teen Vogue | "What the Labor Movement Wants From a Joe Biden Administration" (December, 2020)
- Molly Kinder | The Brookings Institution | "Even a divided America agrees on raising the minimum wage" (November, 2020)
- Jason Sparks | Current Affairs | "The Service Industry and its Discontents" (October, 2020)
- Mark Levinson | Dissent | "Monetary Myth-Busting: An Interview With Stephanie Kelton" (August, 2020)
- Adolph Reed Jr. | The New Republic | "The Surprising Cross-Racial Saga of Modern Wealth Inequality" (June, 2020)
"Building power from below and organizing amongst ourselves is the brightest hope we have to improve the lives of working folk. Remember that politicians will not save us, and most of them are actively rooting against us."
―Kim Kelly, "What the Labor Movement Wants From a Joe Biden Administration"
- CNBC | "Just 39% of Americans could pay for a $1,000 emergency expense" (January 2021)
- PEW Research Center | "Two-thirds of Americans favor raising federal minimum wage to $15 an hour" (July, 2019)
- ABC | "40% of Americans don’t have $400 in the bank for emergency expenses: Federal Reserve" (May, 2019)
Academic Papers & Reports
- Ellora Derenoncourt, Claire Montialoux, Minimum Wages and Racial Inequality, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Volume 136, Issue 1, February 2021, Pages 169–228
- Economic Policy Institute | Mapping the impact of the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 on workers (January, 2021)
- Kenny Stancil | Common Dreams "'Raises From Coast to Coast in 2021': New Year, Higher Minimum Wages in 24 States and 50 Municipalities Thanks to Fight for $15" (December, 2020)
- Congressional Budget Office | The Effects on Employment and Family Income of Increasing the Federal Minimum Wage (July, 2019)
- Elizabeth Austin | Harris Public Policy | Black-White Earnings Gap Remains at 1950s Levels for Median Worker (December, 2016)
- Economic Policy Institute | Black-white wage gaps expand with rising wage inequality (September, 2016)
- Mărginean, S. and Alina Ştefania Chenic. Effects of Raising Minimum Wage: Theory, Evidence and Future Challenges. Procedia. Economics and finance 6 (2013): 96-102.
"The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the economic perils still faced by Black, Hispanic and Native American workers as a result of their disproportionate employment in low-wage sectors of the labor market—jobs that while deemed invaluable 'essential work' during this crisis often don’t pay a living wage. Making the minimum wage a living wage would match politicians’ rhetoric with actual public policy and would go a long way in making the lives of people of color materially better."
- Ellora Derenoncourt and Claire Montialoux (professors at the University of California, Berkeley)
- Dr. Amy K. Glasmeier / MIT | Living Wage Calculator
- UC Berkeley Labor Center | Tools and Resources
- The Economic Policy Institute | Minimum Wage Tracker
Analysts and policy makers often compare income to the federal poverty threshold in order to determine an individual’s ability to live within a certain standard of living. However, poverty thresholds do not account for living costs beyond a very basic food budget. The federal poverty measure does not take into consideration costs like childcare and health care that not only draw from one’s income, but also are determining factors in one’s ability to work and to endure the potential hardships associated with balancing employment and other aspects of everyday life. Further, poverty thresholds do not account for geographic variation in the cost of essential household expenses."
- Dr. Amy K. Glasmeier, "About the Living Wage Calculator"
The Minimum Wage Debate Explained
What Happens When We Raise The Minimum Wage?
AskProfWolff: A Livable Wage