President Joe Biden announced the “American bailout” in January, which includes raising the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour. Since the president’s announcement, there has been a huge debate around raising the minimum wage, especially from the business community.
While much of the ‘US bailout’ focuses on COVID-19 relief, the increase in the minimum wage is long overdue and the pandemic has only exacerbated the need for a wage who can support American workers.
Over the past 25 years, the minimum wage has only increased by $ 2.50, from $ 4.75 to $ 7.25 an hour, and the last increase was in 2009. Moreover, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), black employees make up 31% of the workforce that would benefit most from a minimum wage increase.
Opponents of a minimum wage increase argue it would hurt American businesses and force small and medium-sized businesses to lay off workers.
However, the US Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC) disagrees with this argument. USBC, which represents 310,000 black-owned businesses and 145 darkrooms nationwide, understands that raising the minimum wage will have a significant impact on millions of Americans and their homes, in addition to reducing costs. pay inequalities by race and sex.
The EPI estimates that “nearly one in four (23%) of those who would benefit from it is a black or Latina woman”.
USBC met with Vice President Kamala Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen earlier this month to discuss the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on black-owned businesses and the means by which the administration Biden strives to bring relief and assistance to businesses that need it most.
Even though 41% of black-owned businesses have closed due to COVID-19, black business owners have continued to voice support for a minimum wage increase because of the significant effect it would have in millions of American homes and lifting families out of poverty.
If the black business community, which faces major hurdles outside of COVID-19, can get a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour, why can’t the rest of American businesses?
Raising the minimum wage won’t be easy for businesses, but it is an important step in bringing financial stability to areas of America that have long been neglected.
In fact, black-owned businesses may grow slower depending on the number of employees they can afford to pay (besides having less access to capital), but that doesn’t preclude the community. to rise to the challenge.
Corporate America, let’s ensure that a minimum wage of $ 15 is reached by 2025.
Ron Busby is President of US Black Chambers, Inc.