This symposium will review current evidence about the benefits and potential costs of increasing the minimum wage in cities and states across the U.S, with a focus on impacts on low-wage workers and their families.
The first presentation will examine whether and how a higher minimum wage could reduce poverty. Simulations of minimum wage amounts on individual family budgets show how households can exit poverty by earning a higher wage in conjunction with the current means-tested safety net. A second simulation process shows how a national $12/hour wage plus select investments in job creation can reduce poverty at low public cost. The second paper will present initial findings from the Seattle Minimum Wage Study, a multi-method examination of the effects of the Seattle wage mandates which started going into effect in 2015; findings will cover the first three increases which have already raised the hourly wage floor $15 for some employees of large employers. The final paper will provide findings from a prospective study of how raising the minimum wage to $12/hr. in Colorado will affect health insurance access among low-wage workers who currently qualify for Medicaid through the ACA expansion.. Discussion will include examination of how proposed reforms of the ACA subsidies and Medicaid expansion would impact workers as their wages increase to minimums of $12-$15/hour.
The discussant is an expert in low-wage work. We anticipate having time for audience discussion on social work's role in advocating for increases in the minimum wage while also seeking protections for those who may be most vulnerable to unintended negative consequences of these policy changes.