STATEMENT: Sen. Sanders’ Call to Raise the Minimum Wage to $17/hr Will Slash More Than 2M Jobs 

  • Publication Date: May 2023

In a press conference outside the U.S. capitol this morning, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will announce his bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $17 per hour. In a recent op-ed in The Guardian, Sanders suggested a $17 per hour minimum wage was “the right thing to do,” and discussed “address[ing] the scandal of the tipped wage.”

The Employment Policies Institute stands with the vast majority of economists who oppose the dramatic wage hike endorsed by Sanders. According to EPI, his federal minimum wage proposal:

  • Is out of touch with inflation: Bureau of Labor Statistics data on the consumer price index shows the federal minimum wage indexed according to inflation since the last increase in 2009 would equal roughly $10.32 per hour. Economic analysis also demonstrates drastic minimum wage hikes contribute to price inflation.
  • Is widely opposed by economists: A survey of U.S. labor economists finds two-thirds oppose a federal $15 minimum wage, citing negative impacts on jobs, small business survival, and inflation. Opposition increased to three-quarters of economists when asked about proposals to raise the minimum wage higher than $15.
  • Could kill more than 2 million jobs nationwide: Economists from Miami and Trinity Universities find some of the deepest losses would occur in Pennsylvania (-143,402 jobs), Ohio (-108,312 jobs), Wisconsin (-83,683 jobs), South Carolina (-55,304 jobs), Utah (-35,039 jobs), New Hampshire (-13,179 jobs), West Virginia (-12,331 jobs).

In 2021, Sanders’ previous proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and eliminate the federal tip credit was rejected by a bipartisan group of Senators concerned about adverse effects on employees.

The Employment Policies Institute has published a state-by-state breakdown of the impacts of a $15 federal minimum wage on employment here.

Michael Saltsman, Executive Director of the Employment Policies Institute, issued the following statement ahead of the announcement:

“It’s no surprise Sen. Sanders is pushing yet another progressive policy backed by Big Labor without considering the harmful impacts on America’s small businesses and employees. Economists have demonstrated how harmful this unprecedented increase will be. Yet Sanders and his union allies are choosing politics over employees for bad policy that’s already been rejected by members of Sanders’ own party.”