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Policy brief: SB 153 establishes a minimum wage for Louisiana

Posted on May 23, 2017

For the second year in a row, the Senate Labor Committee agreed to establish a minimum wage in Louisiana. Sen. Troy Carter’s Senate Bill 153 would require workers to be paid at least $8.50 per hour starting in 2019 – and would make Louisiana the 30th state with a minimum wage higher than the $7.25 federal rate. Here are some facts to keep in mind as debate on the bill moves to the Senate Finance Committee:

–> Seventy-six percent of Louisianans support establishing a minimum wage of $8.50, according to the 2016 Louisiana Survey.

–> The Economic Policy Institute calculates that more than 85,000 Louisiana workers would get an immediate raise once the $8.50 wage kicks in, as their current wages fall below that threshold. Another 127,000 workers earn slightly above $8.50 an hour, but would also see their paychecks increase as the higher minimum puts upward pressure on their wages.

–> About 119,000 Louisiana children would benefit as their parents earn more.

–> Research suggests that modest increases in the minimum wage will have no negative effect on jobs. In fact, it could lead to more employment as workers spend their additional wages in their local communities.

–> The federal minimum wage has not kept up with inflation. Had the minimum wage kept up with inflation since 1968, it would be $9.68 today. This decline in purchasing power means low-wage workers have to work longer hours just to achieve the standard of living that was considered bare minimum almost half a century ago.

–> Had the 1968 wage kept up with rising economic productivity, the federal minimum wage would be $19.60 per hour in 2019 – or $11.10 higher than what’s being proposed in the bill.

At a time when 42 percent of Louisiana households struggle to meet basic needs and the state suffers from the nation’s third-highest poverty rate and third-highest child poverty rate, this simple policy change can give a hand-up to struggling families, boost local economies and make it easier for hard-working families to afford basic needs.

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