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Opinion: Black women delivered for Biden.  Now is the time for Congress to pay a minimum wage of $ 15
Democrats tried to include a minimum wage of $ 15 in the US bailout, but were forced to leave it out. They have another opportunity with the Wage Raising Act, which would raise the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour over five years and help narrow the gaps in racial and sexual wealth that black women face. This represents a relatively simple solution to a deeply insidious problem. Congress must pass this law and the White House must lead the way.
Raising the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour – and eliminating the tiny federal wage of $ 2.13 for tip workers, who are mostly women and disproportionately women of color – has been long overdue since. long time. The national minimum wage has not been increased since July 2009, and it will help build a stronger middle class that includes black and brown families.
More than a third of black women and nearly 31% of Hispanic women are said to have a minimum wage of $ 15; but an increase would also increase wages in all fields, with 23.6% of white women and 18.4% of all white workers benefiting, according to a study by the Institute for Economic Policy. And the majority of workers who would benefit, nearly six in 10, are adult women – many of whom have children and have likely struggled to care for children during the Covid-19 crisis.
The entire American economic and political system is riddled with inequities rooted in structural racism, which has turned workers of color into underpaid jobs. The Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these inequalities, as underpaid workers, often black and brown, were suddenly deemed essential and forced to work on the front lines of the crisis, sometimes without adequate pay or protection. . For many essential jobs, like food service workers, home health care workers, and nursing home workers, the median wage is well below $ 15 an hour.
Covid-19 has also had a disproportionate impact on women, many of whom have been forced out of the workforce to care for children or other family members. As the economy begins to rebound, they are being rehired at a slower rate than men.
Unlike other equally difficult challenges, we know that increasing wages can dramatically reduce inequality. For example, the increase in the minimum wage in the late 1960s explained 20% of the decrease in the pay gap between blacks and whites in the years that followed.
Raising the minimum wage is also a fundamental fairness issue, not only for black women, but for all Americans. It will make a crucial difference in the lives of millions of workers in communities across the country. Even the Congressional Budget Office’s study for 2021 on the impact of raising the federal minimum wage to $ 15 by 2025 clearly showed that the policy would increase the incomes of underpaid workers overall and significantly reduce the number of poor families. And although the report found that a higher minimum wage would lead to job losses at all wage levels, additional studies have shown that increasing the minimum wage increases workers’ take-home pay, reduces employee turnover. enterprises and does not result in any appreciable loss of employment.

Black women have shown their commitment to our country, working the toughest jobs in the face of a global pandemic at high rates to keep our nation afloat. We voted for $ 15 because it will lift workers and families out of poverty, loosen the clutches of inequity and segregation, and pave the way for a truly just recovery. It is now up to the White House to prove that it works for the people. It’s time to make $ 15.


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