Bernie Sanders is at the forefront of the fight to make the minimum wage a living wage. Over the past 40 years, the cost of living has increased significantly while workers’ wages have stayed relatively flat, despite increased productivity. Meanwhile, the pay of CEOs is up nearly 1000 percent since 1978 — a figure that is double the stock market growth over the same period. In other words, almost all of the new wealth created in the last 25 years or so has gone straight to the top one percent, leaving most workers behind.
Current State of the Minimum Wage: People who work at least 40 hours a week working at the federal minimum wage should not be living in poverty.
Corporations Exploit the Minimum Wage: American taxpayers should not be picking up the tab on providing Medicaid and food stamps to fellow Americans because the wealthiest corporations are intentionally paying their employees so little.
Worker Productivity & Inflation: American workers are the most productive of any major country in the world, but while CEOs’ compensations soar, most workers’ wages are not keeping up with inflation.
Economic Growth Requires Raising the Minimum Wage: In order to rebuild the American middle class and boost the economy, the federal minimum wage should be a living wage.
Bernie has released an Income Inequality Tax plan so corporations will invest in their workers, not just dividends, stock buybacks and outrageous compensation packages to their executives.
Current State of the Minimum Wage
Bernie believes that American workers are way overdue for a raise in the minimum wage. When the Raise the Wage Act was introduced in the Senate in 2019, Bernie stated:
“Just a few short years ago, we were told that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour was ‘radical.’ But a grassroots movement of millions of workers throughout this country refused to take ‘no’ for an answer. It is not a radical idea to say a job should lift you out of poverty, not keep you in it. The current $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage is a starvation wage. It must be increased to a living wage of $15 an hour.”
Why do we need a higher minimum wage?
$7.25 is not enough money to pay the bills and support a family. Even when working full-time and year-round, one in nine U.S. workers are living in poverty. The effects of low wages can be viewed as a ripple effect throughout the economic and social spheres. As wages decrease, there is a consequential decrease in real purchasing power and workers are inclined to take on more work in order to subsist. Nearly 40 percent of hourly-paid workers are now working more than 40 hours a week.
A family living paycheck to paycheck will struggle to meet the needs of the family. This can include difficulties such as putting away savings toward higher education, eating a healthy diet, having the leisure time and money to accompany a child during play or take them to extracurricular activities, and being unable to clothe or house them adequately — all important factors in the future outcomes of children.
These negative consequences on child outcomes create a cyclical effect, and children born in poverty are more likely to continue to be poor. In short, the effects of a non-living wage are not only felt by individuals who receive it, but by all sectors of society, including children.
On top of all of this, because the minimum wage is currently so low, many workers earning the minimum wage receive public assistance from the federal government in order to support themselves and their families. Therefore, according to the Economic Policy Institute, raising the minimum wage by just a few dollars would cause 1.7 million Americans to no longer rely on public assistance and “reduce government expenditures on current income-support programs by $7.6 billion per year”.