Who Got Pay Raises This Decade? D.C. Councilmembers or D.C. Minimum Wage Workers?

The D.C. Council is currently debating whether to raise the minimum wage to $11.50, a level that would:

  • Catch up to the peak federal minimum wage in 1968 which, adjusted for inflation, would be $10.77 today.
  • Set the minimum wage at 41% of the median wage, which is much closer to both: (1) the “half the median wage” benchmark that most OECD countries use to set a minimum wage value; and (2) the minimum-to-median ratio that the United States itself had during the 1960’s and 1970’s, which set the minimum wage at, on average, 48% of the median wage.
  • Set District wages — assuming that the Prince George’s County and Montgomery County $11.50 minimum wage initiatives pass — at the same level as surrounding Maryland districts.
  • Be 86% of the District living wage of $13.40 set by the Living Wage Act of 2006, which ensures a living wage for employees of firms that have contracts with the city.
  • Index the minimum wage to inflation, so we need not re-legislate this issue every few years.

Some Councilmembers are buying into industry spin and dragging their feet on supporting the much-needed raise for low wage workers in the district.  We put together this graph to ask:

D.C. Council: Why drag your feet on a raise for minimum wage workers while happily accepting raises for yourselves?

 If the D.C. minimum wage grew with the D.C. council wage since 2006, it would be $27.60 today!  If it only grew at half the Council wage, it would be $17.22!  Where does it stand?  A miserly $8.25, while the D.C. councilmember wage has shot up to $65.23 per hour.

Even worse, because the minimum wage is not indexed to inflation, minimum wage workers are set to lose $17,555 between 2011 and 2021 if the Council does not act to index the minimum wage.

Call the Council and ask:

  • Why accept huge pay raises over the past decade while dragging your feet on minimum wage workers?
  • Why should the Council receive a cost of living raise each year while minimum wage workers lose value to inflation?
  • How would the Council feel if they lost $17,555 over the next decade because 13 legislators could not get their act together to prevent inflation erosion?
  • Given that the minimum wage would be $27.60 per hour by 2015 if it grew with the D.C. Council wage, why not have the respect to ensure workers $11.50 per hour in wages.