New data shows that a $15 minimum wage was considered too radical for Congressional candidates on the campaign trail. The Progressive Change Institute (PCI), a liberal organization, compiled a dataset of left-of-center policy positions taken by the soon-to-be freshmen legislators. While PCI says that 60 percent of the candidates campaigned on “raising wages/minimum wage,” only about one-third (20 out of 58 candidates) called for doubling the federal minimum wage.
What explains their hesitation in joining the Fight for $15? Start with the empirical evidence. Economists David Macpherson of Trinity University and William Even of Miami University analyzed how such a policy would impact California, which will be home to the first statewide $15 minimum wage in the country. They found that the “Fight for $15” could cause California a loss of 400,000 jobs by 2022. In the Bay Area and Seattle, experiments with a $15 minimum wage are backfiring in spectacular fashion, leading to a loss of work hours for employees and the closure of restaurants.
Congressman Bobby Scott, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, said that the newly Democratic House will hope to enact “something very similar” to his previous attempt at a $15 wage hike, the Raise the Wage Act. But if the survey data above is any indication, he’ll have a tough time getting support for that policy in his own caucus.