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By Carlos Gamino

President Joe Biden has announced that he’d take action to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour in January, which would be the first increase since 2009. It’s currently $7.25 per hour, so doubling the current amount could make a huge impact on the U.S.’s economy – but is it possible?

Can President Biden Raise the Minimum Wage?

There’s no doubt that raising the minimum wage would benefit many hourly workers – both here in Wisconsin and across the rest of the country. In fact, any increase would boost the incomes of over 17 million people and, according to economists, raise about 1.3 million Americans out of poverty.

“People tell me that’s going to be hard to pass – Florida just passed it, as divided as that state is they just passed it,” Biden said. “The rest of the country is ready to move as well.”

As you might imagine, many businesses are against the increase. Some company owners say that they’ll be forced to make labor cuts as people become “too expensive” to hire – but several U.S. cities and states have raised their hourly minimum wages to $15 and haven’t yet appeared to damage any labor markets.

The Pew Research Center says that two out of three Americans support a $15-per-hour minimum wage, however – and the responses are split along party lines. Notably, though, 61 percent of Americans with household incomes of over $75,000 per year support an increase.

If the federal minimum wage goes up, it’ll take precedence over Wisconsin’s state minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour. That means companies in Wisconsin will have to pay employees at least $15 per hour. Although states can have their own minimum wage laws, and the minimum wage can be anything the state deems necessary (even no minimum wage at all), workers are entitled to at least the federal minimum wage – regardless of what state laws say. On the other side of the coin, states that have minimum wage laws with wages exceeding the federal minimum wage, workers are entitled to the state’s wages. California’s minimum wage, for example, is currently double the federal minimum wage – and all workers are entitled to the state’s minimum wage, not the federal one.

What Do You Think?

Do you think the federal minimum wage should increase to $15 per hour? What do you think will happen if the federal government codifies the increase? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions, so please share them on my Facebook page or my Twitter feed!

Carlos Gamino