INDIANAPOLIS — Both federal and state lawmakers are debating whether to increase the minimum wage during this pandemic.
Indiana currently follows the federal standard of $7.25 per hour.
Congress is considering raising that amount to $15 per hour, which would more than double the minimum wage in the United States. The senate parliamentarian ruled that can’t be included in the latest COVID-19 relief package.
However, this debate is far from over.
When it comes to raising minimum wage, experts say the proposed amount can make all the difference.
“It lifts people out of poverty,” said Kyle Anderson, an economist at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis. “So, we really do have a beneficial impact for a significant number of households.”
He said overall, raising the minimum wage is good for the economy if it’s small increases but he isn’t sure what more than doubling the minimum wage would do.
“We don’t know and I would urge caution among policy makers to take that big of a jump so whatever we do I think it should be phased in and a little more gradual,” said Anderson.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates a $15 minimum wage would lead to the loss of 1.4 million jobs by 2025 in the United States.
“This will serve to further accelerate automation and eliminate those low skill jobs,” explained Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar.
He said the chamber does not consider minimum wage jobs living wage jobs.
“They are stepping stones, they are college students working to earn money for college, they are high school kids wanting to have some pocket change,” said Brinegar.
For those who don’t fall into that category and have minimum wage jobs to make ends meet, Brinegar said there are ways to help them.
“What we want to focus on is providing opportunities, training opportunities to things like the Next Level Jobs Training Program and other assistants both state and federal level that is there to help folks lift up their skills so that they can acquire and get into living wage jobs,” said Brinegar.
He isn’t necessarily against increasing the minimum wage, he just thinks the number needs to make sense.
“The current federal minimum wage, which Indiana’s minimum wage is tied to, has not been raised for a number of years,” said Brinegar. “So, it’s fair to say that it’s time to take a look.”
Minimum wage proposals in the Indiana statehouse didn’t get a hearing this session but democrats say they’ll continue fighting.
“Don’t they deserve an increased minimum wage? A wage that allows them to live without having to work three jobs just to pay the rent,” said State Senate Majority Leader Greg Taylor.
Anderson thinks a federal increase has a better shot than a state proposal.
“Maybe it’s $10, maybe it’s $11 or $12, the political process will play out,” said Anderson.
We will continue following these efforts on both the state and federal level.