US House votes to raise the minimum wage to 15 an hour

Report says Louisiana could suffer serious job loss

Don Ames
July 18, 2019 - 8:45 pm

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While attempts to raise Louisiana's minimum wage have yet to escape the lower chamber, lawmakers in the US House have approved an increase that would see the pay floor hit $15 an hour by 2025.

A Congressional Budget Office report shows the increase would destroy 1.3 million jobs. And, LSU Economist Dr. Loren Scott says that loss would be felt hardest in economies like Louisiana’s.

“We have a whole lot more people that would be paid under 15 dollars an hour normally, so we would have a lot more people who would get laid off in our state proportionally compared to say the northeast or the northwest.”

The CBO’s puts the resulting job losses from a 15 dollar an hour minimum wage somewhere between “about zero and 3.7 million.”

However, Louisiana Budget Project Executive Director Jan Moller says predictions about job losses have been wrong in the past because they don’t take into consideration the economic benefits of paying workers more money.

“Seattle raised its minimum wage to 15-dollars an hour, and they have the lowest unemployment rate in the state of Washington. Examples like this exist across the country," says Moller.

Seattle’s unemployment rate is 1.3 percent lower than the Washington state average.

The CBO report says the increase would raise wages for up to 27 million people, and lift 1.3 million out of poverty. Moller says that kind of result would be particularly beneficial to Louisiana's economy.

“Louisiana has the second-highest poverty rates in the country, the highest child poverty rates. That's no because people aren't working, but because people are working and they're not getting paid enough at their job.”

The wage hike would increase the minimum wage by a dollar and fifteen cents in the first year from its current $7.25 an hour, and a dollar ten cents every year after that before reaching $15 an hour in 2025.

But Scott says raising the minimum wage would be disruptive and unnecessary considering wages are already rising in the aftermath of the 2017 Congressional tax reform package.

“After eight years of the wage rate not moving very much at all, now it's definitely going up, and that’s because of policy changes.”

The Senate Majority Leader says the bill will not be brought up in the Upper Chamber, and the White House has vowed to veto it.

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