America is treating its low-wage workers so badly that it’s starting to get shamed by the rest of the world.
The International Monetary Fund on Monday cut its forecast for U.S. economic growth this year, warned of sluggish growth for years to come, and made a bunch of suggestions for getting America’s economic house in order — including raising the abysmally low federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
“[G]iven its current low level (compared both to U.S. history and international standards), the minimum wage should be increased,” the global financial-stability group wrote in its annual assessment of state of the U.S. economy. “This would help raise incomes for millions of working poor and (help) ensure a meaningful increase in after-tax earnings for the nation’s poorest households.”
The IMF didn’t say how much it thought the minimum wage should be, exactly. President Barack Obama has proposed an increase to $10.10 an hour. If the minimum wage had been adjusted for inflation regularly, it would be at least $10.68, according to the National Employment Law Project. Many fast-food workers would prefer $15 an hour. If wage floors had been raised to keep up with productivity, then they would be closer to $22 an hour.
However you figure it, the wage is too low, and one of the lowest among the world’s developed economies.
The point is moot at the moment, because Republicans in Congress want nothing to do with a higher minimum wage. States and cities are starting to take matters into their own hands, led by Seattle, which recently raised its minimum wage to a highest-in-the-nation $15.
In fact, Republicans in Congress oppose many of the suggestions the IMF made for getting U.S. economic growth moving again, including infrastructure investment and immigration reform. Without such things, the IMF said, it expects U.S. gross domestic product growth to average 2 percent a year for “the next several years,” below its historic average of more than 3 percent. The IMF also cut its forecast for growth this year to 2 percent from an earlier estimate of 2.8 percent.