INSTITUTE INDEX: What a $15 minimum wage would mean for the South

The map shows the percentage of working residents in each congressional district who would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. While a national $15 minimum wage would deliver pay increases to workers across the country, it would particularly benefit those in the South, a region that historically has been hostile to minimum wage laws. (Economic Policy Institute map; for an interactive version, click here.)

Number of U.S. cities — including Atlanta, Houston, and Charleston, South Carolina — where fast food workers went on strike last week to demand a $15 minimum hourly wage, the latest move in the eight-year Fight for $15 organizing effort to win higher pay and union rights: 15

Date on which President Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 economic rescue package that includes a call to Congress to raise the federal minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to to $15 while ending the $2.13 minimum wage for tipped workers and the sub-minimum wage for teens and some workers with disabilities: 1/20/2021

Date on which a group of U.S. lawmakers led by Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced the Raise the Wage Act (H.R. 603 and S. 53), which would increase the current federal minimum hourly wage to $15 an hour for all workers over five years and adjust it thereafter to keep pace with the median wage: 1/26/2021

Number of House and Senate cosponsors, respectively, the measure has to date, all Democrats or independents: 191, 37

Among those House and Senate cosponsors, respectively, number who represent Southern states: 39, 4

Date on which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the $15 minimum wage would definitely be in the COVID-19 relief package the House sends to the Senate: 2/11/2021

Number of votes with which some key Democratic Senate leaders believe the wage hike could be passed using the budget reconciliation process, though President Biden has said he's not sure the rules would allow it: 51

Date on which representatives of the Poor People's Campaign and the Service Employees International Union met with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) — who along with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) said he opposes a $15 minimum wage — to press him to reconsider: 2/18/2021

Percent of the U.S. workforce that would get raises as a result of the Raise the Wage Act: 21

Number of Americans the measure would lift out of poverty: nearly 1 million

Rank of the South among regions where raising the minimum wage to $15 would have the greatest impact: 1

Portion of workers in the South who would benefit from the law: about 1 in 3

Percent of those who would benefit who are women: 59

Percent of Latino workers who would benefit: 26

Percent of African American workers who would benefit: 31

Percent of the narrowing of the Black-white earnings gap in the late 1960s and 1970s that has been attributed to minimum wage increases: 20

Of the seven states that have already taken action to raise their minimum hourly wage to $15, number in the South: 0

Number of states — all in the South — that have no minimum wage at all, meaning federal minimums apply: 5*

Number of states — all in the South — that have a tipped minimum wage of $2.13 an hour and don't require employers to bring the wage up to the regular federal minimum after tipping, a practice rooted in slavery: 6**

Percent of Americans who favor raising the minimum wage to $15, including a majority of Republicans: 70

* Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
** Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

(Click on figure to go to source.)