New Report: Working People Need Minimum Wage Raise

WASHINGTON – The Leadership Conference Education Fund and the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality today released “Bare Minimum: Why We Need to Raise Wages for America’s Lowest-Paid Families,” a report on working people and their struggle to make a living when paid tips, or the federal minimum wage, or less. The report makes a case for raising wages that is grounded in history, economics, and movements across the country, but particularly in the lived experience of our nation’s lowest-paid working people.

“A living wage is not a privilege, it is a civil and human right for all,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Education Fund. “The majority of people who would benefit from the policy changes we recommend are women, especially women of color, who are overrepresented in the low-wage workforce. Changes are a bare minimum and needed to redress longstanding inequities. The first-hand stories in this report capture the day-to-day struggles of minimum wage life while underscoring the importance of providing better opportunities for low-income communities. Raising wages is a moral question: do we value the people who are the engine of our economy or not? The answer must be yes.”

“Today, the minimum wage is a poverty wage,” said Peter Edelman, faculty director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty. “Families cannot survive on $14,500 a year—the salary of someone working full time at the federal minimum wage. Significantly raising the minimum wage would help families make ends meet, while also reducing inequality and shrinking the gender and racial wage gaps. On the 50th   anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, raising wages for working people would be one step toward realizing his vision of economic and racial justice.”

The report includes the stories of working people from across the country trying to make ends meet on incomes just above the federal minimum wage. The report also recommends four key ways to raise the federal minimum wage and include more working people under its protections:

  • Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour;
  • Indexing the minimum wage once it reaches $15 per hour so that it will continue to keep pace with cost and standard of living;
  • Eliminating the tipped minimum wage; and
  • Eliminating the subminimum wage that applies to certain working people with disabilities.

The full report is available here.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. The Education Fund’s campaigns empower and mobilize advocates around the country to push for progressive change in the United States. It was founded in 1969 as the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. For more information on The Education Fund, visit

The Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality’s (GCPI) Economic Security & Opportunity Initiative’s mission is to expand economic inclusion for all of the United States through rigorous research, analysis, and ambitious ideas to improve programs and policies.  The Economic Security & Opportunity Initiative works to alleviate poverty and inequality in the United States. The Initiative develops and advances proven and promising ideas while identifying and articulating risks and harms from ineffective policies and practices. The Initiative works with policymakers, researchers, practitioners, and advocates to design and advance policy and programmatic recommendations at all levels of government.  For more information on the Center on Poverty and Inequality, please visit: