Biden's plan for a $15 minimum wage could mean 1 in 5 Americans earn more. Nearly a third of Black workers would get a raise, research suggests.

  • Around a fifth of the US workforce would be better off if the federal minimum wage were boosted to $15 an hour, new research has found.
  • Nearly one-third of Black American workers would get a raise, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found.
  • The wage bump is a core component of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus plan.
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Nearly 32 million Americans would earn more under President Joe Biden's proposals to more than double the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, according to calculations by thinktank Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

This is around 21% of the US's total workforce.

Women, minorities, and frontline workers would benefit the most, it found.

According to the EPI's research, if the federal minimum wage were boosted to $15:

  • Nearly one-third of Black Americans and one-quarter of Latinos would get a raise.
  • Almost six in 10 people who benefit would be women. Black or Latina woman would account for one in four of all beneficiaries.
  • More than one-third of those working in residential or nursing care facilities would earn more.
  • Many other essential and front-line workers, including substitute teachers, nursing assistants, and home health aides, would get paid more.

Minimum wage increases in the 1960s led to a 20% reduction in the earnings gap between Black and white workers, the EPI found. Wage increases have also led to reductions in poverty and improved infant health, it said.

"It would change my life a lot," one worker, who previously worked 80-hour weeks across two jobs to support her six children, told Insider's Juliana Kaplan on Monday.

In an opinion piece for Insider, a McDonald's worker in Memphis said her $10 an hour wage was "nowhere near enough to cover basic necessities every month for me and my baby daughter."

Read more: Wealth inequality critic and heiress Abigail Disney on Biden's $1.9 trillion rescue package: 'This stimulus is a moral imperative'

Biden pushed for a $15 minimum wage during his campaign, and it was a core component of his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, though this has faced pushback from Republican senators.

Biden also plans to sign an executive order in his first 100 days in office to ensure that federal contractors offer a $15 minimum wage alongside emergency paid leave, Brian Deese, his National Economic Council director, said.

Democrats are simultaneously pushing the move via the Raise the Wage Act, which seeks to lift the minimum wage incrementally to $15 an hour by 2025, and phase out the $2.13 minimum wage for tipped workers.

The federal minimum wage has not been raised for more than a decade. In 2019, the US House of Representatives passed a plan to incrementally raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, but this was rejected by the Senate.

This push for a wage rise comes as states are boosting their own minimum wages. Twenty states had already increased their minimum wages by the start of 2021, and several more will see boosts in the coming months.

Companies are increasingly taking the matter into their own hands, too. Among those who have raised, or announced plans to raise, their minimum wage to $15 or higher are Wayfair, Starbucks, Target, Amazon, and Costco.

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