(Gray News) – It’s been a decade since the federal minimum wage was set at $7.25 per hour.
While no changes have come from Washington, the benchmark rate has begun to shift in parts of the country.
In 2013, SeaTac, Wash., became the first city to adopt a $15 minimum wage. It was followed by Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, all of California and New York State.
Ballot initiatives in Missouri and Arkansas have raised the minimum wages in those states.
Several big companies also are pushing wages higher. Walmart and McDonald’s are taking steps towards $15 an hour. Amazon adopted a $15 minimum in 2018.
Just last week, House Democrats approved legislation to raise the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade, to $15 an hour.
The bill faces a tough slog in the Republican-controlled Senate to become law, setting a potential pivot point between liberals and conservatives in the 2020 elections.
Should it pass, a $15 minimum wage would put some 30 million low-wage workers well ahead of the pace of inflation for the last 10 years.
To equal the purchasing power of $7.25 in 2009, it would take $8.66 today.