Activists Want $20 Minimum Wage

( – It started with the phrase “Fight for $15” when labor activists started campaigning for a higher minimum wage around 2012. But inflation has driven the demand to $20 an hour as campaigners try to persuade states to raise the minimum employers are allowed to pay.

Figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that $15 in 2012 is about equivalent to $20 in 2023. Activists succeeded in pushing a small number of states to set minimum wages at $15, but they’re back with a demand to increase that by 25%.

Labor activists in states such as California, Massachusetts, and New York are pushing for a higher minimum wage.

Lawmakers in Maryland are also sympathetic to the argument, bringing out the Fair Wage Act.

It is not hard to find workers struggling to get by on what was once considered a generous minimum wage. Former UPS worker Anthony Rivera, of New York City, said his $15 per hour job at UPS wasn’t enough to pay bills and buy food. He said it left him with “no other option” but to get a second job.

But it’s also easy to find business owners who point out that higher minimum wages may force small businesses under. Many thousands of locally owned businesses shuttered their doors during the government response to the coronavirus pandemic. Heavy-handed restrictions from state governors on which businesses could be open and which had to close did in many mom-and-pop operations.

Bowling Alley owner Cindy Lee of Endicott, New York, said she’s having a hard time paying off loans she had to take out to survive the government response to the pandemic.

Prices on liquor and food will have to go up, Lee said, but that’s not all. She’ll have to “cut corners somewhere” with regard to the number of employees, she said.

Americans are already seeing these shifts, as the number of service workers in grocery stores and restaurants is noticeably smaller than before the coronavirus.

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