Demonstrators prepare signs supporting the raising of the federal minimum wage during May Day demonstrations in New York May 1, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
The D.C City Council approved a gradual minimum wage increase to $15 an hour by 2020 on June 27, 2016. On July 1 the minimum wage was raised to $11.50 an hour, which will start the gradual increase. D.C. joins 10 other states, like California and New York, that plan to gradually increase their minimum wage.
The unanimous vote approved the DNC’s platform presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ legislation, placed in July of 2015 and strongly supported by Bernie Sanders, to raise the minimum wage. After submitting his bill in 2015, Sanders joined a march on Capitol Hill and stated, “It is a national disgrace that millions of full-time workers are living in poverty and millions more are forced to work two or three jobs just to pay their bills.”
The vote will increase the minimum wage in D.C by 70%, and will become the highest minimum wage in the country by 2020, when the increase will end. The lowest minimum wage is Wyoming, at $5.15 an hour, and there are no plans as of now to increase the Wyoming minimum wage.
The D.C City Council, known by their democratic and progressive actions, was on track to pass the bill ever since it was introduced in 2015. Moreover, President Obama released a press statement after the vote to raise the minimum wage came through saying, “I commend the District of Columbia, Mayor Muriel Bowser, and the Council of the District of Columbia for raising the District’s minimum wage. Since my first call to raise wages in 2013, 18 states and D.C have taken action- action that will help over 7 million Americans.”
Meanwhile, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, agrees the minimum wage should be increased, but not so suddenly and not by so much. Her campaign site notes that Clinton supports a gradual raise of the minimum wage to $12 an hour. She supports movements like the one in New York, where a law was signed to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour while the economic effects are monitored.
On the other hand, Donald Trump, presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has stated that he will keep the minimum wage where it is now if he is elected president. On August 20, 2015 he stated, “having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country.” According to his platform, Donald Trump says he will bring more jobs to America, which will wipe out the need for an increase of the minimum wage.
While some agree with the views of Trump and Clinton, some disagree. Kenneth Rambertt, D.C resident, said that “the minimum wage should be raised, what’s the harm? This is America!” Rambertt described how he worked for Johnsons for $7 an hour and said he was “a slave for them.” Many other Americans agree that the importance of the U.S economy partly hinges on the minimum wage ceiling.
The Pew Research Center found that 84% of Americans cite the economy as a “very important” issue when deciding on who to support in the upcoming election. Moreover, 80% of Clinton supporters cite that the economy is important to their vote, versus 90% of Trump supporters.
The nation-wide movement to raise the minimum wage will surely affect the presidential race. The decision to support or reject the increase in the wage will affect voters decision to support a candidate, as many citizens look to the economy as a key deciding factor in their vote.