President-elect Joe Biden (C) along with Democratic Senate nominees Jon Ossoff (L) and Rev. Raphael Warnock (R) greet supporters in the Atlanta parking lot during a campaign rally the day before their runoff election .
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
After Tuesday’s runoff election in Georgia, a minimum wage of $ 15 was drawing closer, which would likely reverse Senate control and unite the Democratic Party government.
Such a raise would more than double the current federal minimum wage of $ 7.25 an hour, but would likely meet opposition from some Republicans and corporate groups.
Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock won the Georgia Senate runoff on Tuesday, beating Republican incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler, according to forecasts by NBC News.
Democrat Jon Ossoff led Republican David Perdue, whose Senate seat expired on Sunday, in the other race in Georgia, which NBC News said was too short to call on Wednesday lunchtime.
Democratic victories in these competitions would put the Democrats in control of the Senate, House, and Presidency. Congress is due to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
“It’s absolutely a priority,” Bankrate senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick said of Democrats passing legislation to set a higher wage floor.
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Democrats, especially those from the party’s liberal wing, have long pushed for the national minimum wage to be raised. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who normally votes with Democrats, said in a tweet Tuesday that Georgia’s runoff election would put a minimum wage of $ 15 at stake.
Proponents of raising the lower wage limit argue that the current standard does not offer Americans a liveable wage.
$ 15,080 per year
The federal minimum wage of currently $ 7.25 per hour has not increased since 2009. That wage is equivalent to $ 15,080 for a full-time employee, year round, according to the National Employment Law Project.
Its value has decreased over time as wages do not increase with the cost of living.
Warnock and Ossoff advocate a minimum wage of $ 15, a point they have emphasized several times over the past few months. Biden promised to raise the wage floor to $ 15 an hour. The house voted for it in 2019.
Several states, cities, and counties recently increased their minimum wages to $ 15 or more. According to the National Employment Law Project, 40 cities and counties will have reached or exceeded a minimum wage of $ 15 by the end of 2021.
“Over the past 40 years in America we’ve seen wages for working people depressed while returns for shareholders went through the roof,” Ossoff said on the campaign.
A higher wage would help black and Hispanic workers disproportionately compared to other groups such as whites and Asians, research shows. In December, Warnock described the increase in the minimum wage as a “problem of racial justice”.
A wage increase would come at a time when low-wage workers and ethnic minorities were disproportionately affected by job losses and poverty during the Covid pandemic.
However, passing such laws is not a matter of course. If both Democrats win in Georgia, the Senate will be split 50% between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris able to cast a groundbreaking vote in favor of the Democrats. This majority would fall below the threshold for preventing a filibuster.
The Republican-controlled Senate failed to put the wage increase bill to a vote after the 2019 bill was passed.
Some groups of companies, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation for Independent Business, have spoken out against it, saying that a national minimum wage of $ 15 would increase labor costs and push employers to lay off workers.
Small businesses that are less likely to have cash reserves or profit margins to absorb higher labor costs would bear the brunt of these negative effects, the NFIB said earlier this year.
Gradually increasing wages to $ 15 by 2025 would raise wages for 17 million Americans, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office. About 10 million more people making a little more than $ 15 an hour could also get a raise. However, it is estimated that 1.3 million other workers would lose their jobs.
Given the overwhelming public support, the dynamic appears to be with the Democrats on this issue, Hamrick said.
“The economy has been able to take the brunt of this surge back [in 2009]”Said Hamrick.” Obviously, this year was challenging for other reasons [due to the Great Recession], but no one looks back to 2009 and says, “That was a big political mistake.”