$15 minimum wage would benefit 1.56 million Ohioans
Posted April 13, 2021 in Press Releases
A report released today by Policy Matters Ohio shows that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would benefit 1.56 million Ohioans; help move Black and brown workers and women closer to pay equality with white men; and inject $6.1 billion a year more into Ohio’s economy. Watch a recording of the press call here.
The Policy Matters report models the impact of raising Ohio’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026 and eliminating the subminimum wage for tipped workers. The schedule is based on the Florida law that voters there approved in November.
“Everyone deserves a fair return for the work that they do,” Policy Matters Researcher Michael Shields said. “Ohioans have gotten better at their jobs over the last five decades. Right before COVID-19, they were producing 88% more wealth each year than their counterparts did in 1968. Raising Ohio’s minimum wage to $15 would ensure that everyone shares in the prosperity their work helps create.”
Today, Ohio’s minimum wage of $8.80 an hour is worth 28% less than the inflation-adjusted $12 it was worth in 1968, Shields said.
Louis Hernandez of Columbus is a member of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1. He works as a security guard for Allied Universal and said his job requires him to be in dangerous situations, but his employer pays below $15 an hour.
“I’ve been in structural fires, vehicle fires. I’ve saved two people with AED (automated external defibrillators),” he said. “We’ve had attempted suicides. Active shooters. Bank robbers. They ask us to be first responders to medical responses. We are always there, we’re number one and we get paid not enough. Would you ask your fireman or EMTs to work for less than $15?”
Fifteen dollars an hour “would mean more money for food on the table for your kids,” he said. “You might actually have something in savings. Gas to get to work. There’s a lot of times that my coworkers and I look out for each other. Sometimes paying the bills you run out of money, so we have to look out for each other.”
More than 400,000 working parents like Mary Shackelford of Cleveland would benefit from a $15 minimum wage. Shackelford, a member of SEIU Local 1, works as a janitor cleaning the Huntington Building in Cleveland’s Public Square. She says raising the wage would help her afford a car and to put her daughter through school.
“We are now on the front lines,” she said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are risking not only ourselves, but also our families. We put ourselves at a lot of risk, with no hazard pay. So I feel that the $15 an hour would benefit not only myself and my family but also my coworkers and their families.”
Raising the wage would help move Ohio toward pay equality across race and gender. Seventy percent of the Ohioans who would benefit from raising the wage are white, but past and current policies like segregation, redlining and unfair targeting by law enforcement have forced many Black and brown people into lower-paying jobs. So today, Black Ohioans are paid 76 cents to white Ohioans’ $1. Among Black workers who would benefit from increasing Ohio’s minimum wage to $15, pay would rise by more than $4,000 on average. Women are paid less than 86 cents on-the-dollar compared to men. Because they’re more likely to hold low-paying, essential worker jobs, and take on more unpaid care work, they’ve been hit hardest by the coronavirus recession. Raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2026 would benefit 955,000 Ohio women — 36% of working women in the state, the report shows.
“The people fighting us on this are people who already have money, who already have what they need, have their bills paid, can support their family,” said SEIU Local 1 member Tina Callahan who cleans the federal building in Cleveland. “We just want to be equal.”
Raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2026 would generate $4.9 billion more a year in wages, directed to those who will spend it to buy necessities. Eliminating the tipped credit will generate another $1.2 billion. Holly Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage said that money will be spent in local businesses.
“The minimum wage has become a poverty wage instead of an anti-poverty wage and that is bad for business as well as workers,” Sklar said. “Workers are also customers. Most businesses have many more customers than employees. Local businesses depend on local customers to make enough to buy what they are selling.”