Casten Statement on H.R. 582, Raise The Wage Act

July 18, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Sean Casten (IL-06) voted to pass H.R. 582, Raise the Wage Act, which would raise the Federal minimum wage to $15 per hour gradually over the next five years.

Casten said, “Today I voted to give American workers a raise. The Raise the Wage Act would have immense benefits for American workers by helping to address the growing wealth inequality in this country, while not adversely affecting our economy as a whole.

The Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of this bill shows that it will raise the wages of 34 million Americans and bring 1.3 million out of poverty. This bill would drastically improve the quality of life and financial security of millions of Americans, putting more money in their pockets to spend helping to stimulate their local economies.

The minimum wage has stayed stagnant in this country since 2007 for non-tipped workers and since 1991 for tipped workers. Anyone who was around in 1991 or 2007 knows that the cost of living was far less back then, yet the minimum has not been adjusted at all, not even for inflation. If the minimum wage had kept pace with worker productivity growth since its peak in 1968, it would be over $20 dollars an hour today. It is clear that a raise to the minimum wage is far overdue.

Some argue that raising the minimum wage will have adverse effects on local and national economies.This argument does not pass muster; failing to ensure that wages rise with inflation serves only to increase the share of profits that flow to capital. I didn’t run my businesses that way and we shouldn’t run the country that way. This bill will gradually increase the minimum wage from where it is now to $15 per hour by 2025, and then permanently indexes the minimum wage to the national median wage, ensuring that we no longer allow cost inflation to outpace wage inflation.

I am pleased to have helped ensure that the Raise the Wage Act included an amendment that evaluated the impact of raising the minimum on jobs after the first two years.That amendment requires the Government Accountability Office to study job trends after the first two years of increases so that we can ensure that this bill is creating jobs for our workers, not causing jobs to be lost to offshoring or automation.

Finally, this bill is good for Illinois. Our state is one of the 29 states that has set a higher minimum wage than the Federal minimum wage and is already committed to $15. Bringing our neighboring states that currently have lower minimum wages up to our state’s standards will help level the playing field, encourage job growth in our state, and bolster our economic power."