By now you’ve probably heard of the “bipartisan wage growth” that the Trump administration has been pushing for the past few months.
But, as is often the case in Washington, the consensus seems to be that the idea isn’t that much better than what we’ve been seeing from Congress, the White House, and other parts of the political establishment.
So what’s the best way to go about achieving the economic growth that the president and congressional Republicans have been pushing?
I asked some of the most prominent economists, political scientists, and business leaders to weigh in on whether a “growth wage” should be the centerpiece of a broader wage increase.
I’m not saying that a wage increase would be the answer to everyone’s economic woes—the wage hike would only make the problem worse—but I’m hoping that the answers will give us a better picture of what the country needs to do in order to move toward a better future.
Below, we’ve assembled some of their thoughts on the best policy ideas to achieve an “economic growth wage.”1.
Create a $10 minimum wage: This idea, first proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in 2015, has been floated by a number of Democratic lawmakers, including Representative John Conyers (D, MI) and Representative Adam Schiff (D., CA), as well as by prominent economists like James Heckman of the Heritage Foundation, and Richard Wolff of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The idea is to create a minimum wage that would be set at the state and local level, rather than at the federal level.
The federal minimum wage would be at $7.25 an hour in 2019, with states and localities able to increase it to $9.00 an hour by 2021.
This wage increase wouldn’t be tied to any specific number—the government would only take the amount of money a state has collected as part of the minimum wage.2.
Create an inflation-adjusted minimum wage for workers over age 35: This proposal has been proposed by Democratic Congressman Peter Welch (D–VT), who also wants to create an inflation adjusted minimum wage, starting at $8.75 an hour.
This would allow the federal government to keep inflation in check, but would provide a much more realistic wage increase than the one the Trump Administration has proposed.
For instance, it would only require $1,500 more for a full-time worker, instead of $4,500 for a part-time employee.3.
Create minimum wage rebates for families: This would be a great idea if it was actually implemented.
If you’re making $15 an hour or less, the government could pay you up to $1.10 an hour, which would make the difference between a full day’s pay and just one.
If your family makes $60,000 per year, the federal minimum salary would be about $15,000—and if you have two parents working, the family would get an additional $1 per week.
In fact, it might be worth doing both this and raising the federal maximum wage.4.
Create $1 an hour minimum wage—with a $20-per-hour bonus—for low-wage workers: This is a good idea if you’re a low-income worker earning less than $15 per hour.
It would be paid at a much higher rate than the current $7-per, $10-per or $12-per hourly minimum wage because it would not include the cost of overtime or vacation pay.5.
Create universal pay: This could be an option that’s just as popular as a wage hike.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently proposed a plan called Universal Pay, which calls for the government to provide a minimum hourly wage to all Americans, including low-skilled workers, for everyone under age 35.
It includes a guaranteed $15 minimum wage and an annual increase of $1 for every $10 that a worker makes above that level.
But the proposal does not address the problem of low-paying jobs being outsourced or automation displacing workers in the high-skilled industries that employ these workers.6.
Establish a “national minimum wage”: In an effort to raise the federal wage, this proposal would require a $15-per hour minimum.
In theory, the proposal could help boost the wages of the majority of Americans who are not part of an upper-middle-class household, who don’t have college degrees, and who are making less than the federal poverty line ($15,850 for a single person).
But the problem is that, if the minimum wages are increased to a point where it becomes financially unviable to pay these workers, the only way to pay for these benefits would be to raise taxes, a plan that’s likely to have a much worse economic impact on the middle class.7.
Increase the minimum hourly rate of pay for tipped workers: A recent