Members of City Council, good morning. My name is Frank Garvey, I am an organizer with Time for a Raise, a project of the Center for Study of Responsive Law that advocates for a higher minimum wage at the federal, state and local level. I am glad to sit here today in favor of a raise.
For far too long, the District of Columbia has become too expensive for working class families. Since 2000, the median housing price has tripled, the Consumer Price Index has increased 42% and the minimum wage has stayed too low.
Even with the planned hike to $11.50 this summer, it simply is not enough. I know that I could not survive on the $24,000 annually that would provide, and I doubt that many in this room could.
Raising the minimum wage will have tremendous economic benefits for DC residents. A recent study from the Economic Policy Institute found that raising the minimum wage will provide a raise to 114,000 working people in the DC metro area.
This creates a ripple effect. With 114,000 people earning more, they spend more, For every dollar an hour that a person’s wages are raised, they will earn an extra $2,900 an hour. This is money that is spent in the community, at small businesses, grocery stores and restaurants all throughout the District, creating an economic stimulus of $329 million.
This wage increase wouldn’t just be an increase for DC’s teenage population. 98% of all minimum wage earners in the District are over the age of 20 and who, on average, are their family’s primary source of income. To increase the minimum wage would put more money in the pockets of 80,000 parents.
There are people who will claim that this is too much too fast. But empirically, that is simply not the case. Over the past few years, eight states have completely eliminated their tipped minimum wages, including Montana and Washington State. If two states such as those with two completely different costs of living can do it, than the District certainly can. A study last year from Purdue University found that increasing the minimum wage would have “a minimal effect on prices at limited-service restaurants with fewer than 25 full-time employees.”
It is time for this Council to take a bold progressive stance on this issue and pass a higher minimum wage that will benefit all DC residents.