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Analysis Shows Higher Minimum Wage Would Cost Some Jobs But Give Raises to Millions

Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott is using his position as chairman of the Education and Labor Committee to push for a $15 dollar an hour minimum wage.

But  a new analysis is a mixed bag for that effort.

In much of rural Virginia, a big time retailer like Wall-Mart might be the only employer for miles around. Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott of Newport News says that makes it hard for many low-wage workers to earn much more than the minimum wage.  “In rural areas, you may have only one employer. So you can’t go across town kind of play one against the other," Scott said during a press call Monday. "You get what they say.”

But a new report from the Congressional Budget Office says raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would result in 1.3 million workers losing their jobs.

Heidi Shierholz at the Economic Policy Institute says she’s skeptical of that number.  “There is a new consensus among economists that minimum wage increases have raised wages without substantial job loss.”

The same CBO report says 17 million workers would get a raise and more than a million families would be lifted above the poverty threshold.

Click here to read the full CBO report

The minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour, and it hasn’t been raised since 2009 — the longest period of time low-wage workers haven’t received a raise since the Depression.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
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