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Report Shows Billions in Raises for Workers Over 4 Years

Since the Fight for $15 began, 19 million workers have won raises totaling $61.5 billion. (Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)
Since the Fight for $15 began, 19 million workers have won raises totaling $61.5 billion. (Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)
November 30, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. – As thousands of low-wage workers staged strikes and protests in cities across the country, a new report shows the fight for a $15 minimum wage is making a difference.

Tuesday's job actions in more than 320 cities nationwide marked the fourth anniversary of the first Fight for 15 strike by fast-food workers in New York.

According to Yannet Lathrop, researcher and policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, their report shows that the movement has had an impact, raising wages for millions across the country.

"Since the Fight for $15 started, 19 million workers have benefited from this, and the total raise that workers have received is over $61 billion so far," she said.

Still, 43 percent of U.S. workers are earning less than $15 an hour. Opponents of raising the minimum wage say it will cause job losses, and hurt small businesses.

But Lathrop noted that in Seattle, which has begun phasing in a $15 minimum wage, there has been job growth in the restaurant industry, the employment sector most affected by the increase.

"We also saw lower unemployment rates compared to the state as a whole, so overall the indication is that the $15 minimum wage has not really caused a catastrophe as predicted by opponents," she explained.

At least 20 cities and dozens of large companies have raised their minimum wages since 2012. New York and California have passed $15 minimum-wage laws and voters in four states approved raising their minimums in this month's election.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA