Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) thinks there should be a drastic increase in the minimum wage.
At a Senate Committee Hearing on Health, Education, and Labor, the senator argued that minimum wage could justifiably be raised to $22 an hour. Warren advocated for an increased rate based on a recent study showing what the wage would be if it reflected growth in worker productivity.
"If we started in 1960 and we said that as productivity goes up, that is as workers are producing more, then the minimum wage is going to go up the same. And if that were the case then the minimum wage today would be about $22 an hour," she said.
Warren added “So my question is…With a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, what happened to the other $14.75? It sure didn’t go to the worker.”
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Among the committee members was Dr. Arindrajit Dube, a University of Massachusetts Amherst professor who has studied the economic impact of minimum wage rates. Dube added that had the minimum wage risen proportionately to the income earnings of the top 1 percent, it would stand at $33 an hour today.
Warren did not appear to be saying the rate should actually be increased to $22 an hour. Rather, she was using the study, which demonstrated flat minimum wage growth coinciding with economic inequality, as a platform for a more realistic increase to the minimum wage.
Warren went on to argue that the $10 an hour minimum wage proposed by President Obama in his State of the Union address would not be nearly as harmful to businesses as many have claimed.
“During my Senate campaign, I [frequently] ate a Number 11 at McDonald’s. It cost $7.19,” she said. “If we raised the minimum wage to $10.10 over three years, the price increase on that item would be to about $7.23. Are you telling me that’s unsustainable?” Warren said.
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The $10 an hour rate has been endorsed by several Democrats in the Senate over the last several weeks.