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Introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the Raise the Wage Act, H.R. 582, would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour over five years. A more appropriate short title for H.R. 582 would be the “Guaranteed Unemployment for Low-Skill and Entry-Level Workers Act.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.1 percent of hourly workers earn the federal minimum wage, with 47.1 percent of those being between the ages of 16 and 24. Generally, these are young and low-skill individuals who need to develop job skills while in high school or college before a career. The Raise the Wage Act would put in place a significant barrier for these young and low-skill individuals who are seeking to enter the workforce.

The Raise the Wage Act would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour over five years and, after the five-year phase-in, require the Secretary of Labor to annually determine a percentage increase based on the percent increase of the median hourly wages of all employees.

The bill would also phase-out the federal $2.13 minimum wage for tipped workers. This particular aspect of the proposed legislation was even too far for Washington, D.C. Restaurants in the District opposed Initiative 77 because this ballot initiative applied the $15 minimum wage requirement to tipped workers. Although the initiative was approved by voters, the Council of the District of Columbia repealed the initiative in October 2018 because of the negative impact it would have on the District’s restaurant industry.

The end result of this bill would be reduced employment and reduced hours, as well as higher prices for virtually all consumer products. Low-skill and entry-level workers will ultimately take most of the hit.