The Fight for a Fair Minimum Wage, and How You Can Help

Building Momentum with Big Wins in 2018

On Election Day, voters in Missouri and Arkansas passed ballot initiatives to increase their state minimum wages—giving raises to about a million workers and boosting their economies from the bottom up. Business owners in these two states came out strongly in support of raising the minimum wage.

In Missouri, more than 700 business leaders in our Missouri Business for a Fair Minimum Wage coalition made the case for raising the minimum wage—from endorsing our public statement and displaying signs in their stores to speaking at events and doing videos and media interviews. They countered business opposition to raising the wage and supported Proposition B, Raise Up Missouri’s ballot measure to gradually raise the minimum wage from $7.85 an hour now to $12 in 2023.

In Arkansas, business owners backed Issue 5, the Arkansans for a Fair Wage ballot initiative to raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.50 an hour to $9.25 on Jan. 1, 2019, $10 in 2020, and $11 in 2021. One out of four Arkansas workers will get a raise.

In June, Massachusetts passed a statewide minimum wage increase to $15 by 2023. The Raise Up Massachusetts campaign was strongly supported by hundreds of business leaders in our Massachusetts Business for a Fair Minimum Wage coalition. One out of four Massachusetts workers will get a raise as the minimum wage increases from the current $11 to $12 on January 1, 2019 and then yearly until reaching $15 in 2023.

Campaigns to raise the minimum wage to $15 are continuing in states such as Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. And numerous states may have legislative or ballot campaigns in 2019 and 2020, including potentially Nevada, Illinois, Virginia, Rhode Island, Louisiana, and Florida.

Nine Years Without a Federal Increase

July 24, 2018 marked nine long years since the federal minimum wage was last increased—to $7.25 an hour in 2009. We’re headed toward a terrible milestone in 2019: the longest period in history without a federal minimum wage increase.

The national floor under workers’ wages was actually much stronger 50 years ago when the federal minimum wage peaked in buying power. The 1968 minimum wage was worth $11.83 in today’s dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator.

Twenty-one states have minimum wages at or below the federal minimum of $7.25. Many others aren’t that much above it. (For specific state rates, visit the Economic Policy Institute Minimum Wage Tracker at

If the minimum wage had continued to rise with worker productivity instead of falling very far behind in recent decades, it would have helped counter, instead of contributing to, the decline of our middle class and sharply rising inequality.

Workers are also customers. Businesses rely on consumer spending and consumer spending depends heavily on wages.

Workers are also customers. Businesses rely on consumer spending and consumer spending depends heavily on wages.

The minimum wage sets the floor under worker pay—millions of workers have paychecks above the inadequate minimum wage, but still too low to make ends meet. Since the federal government has failed to act, more states have raised their minimum wages, but others will not. The federal government’s abdication of responsibility to raise the minimum wage is impoverishing workers, depressing local communities, weakening consumer demand, straining the safety net, and hurting local businesses and the economy.

Business for a Fair Minimum Wage members know that the minimum wage has been too low for too long. When customers have more money to spend, businesses grow, and local economies are stronger. Raising the minimum wage also helps businesses by fostering lower employee turnover, increased productivity, and improved customer satisfaction.

Leadership in the incoming 2019-2020 U.S. House of Representatives is pushing for a federal minimum wage increase as a top priority. Updated bills will be introduced in the House and Senate calling for a gradual increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15. Strong support from both workers and businesses across the country will be crucial for passage.

Let’s work together to boost the economy from the bottom up nationally and assure an adequate minimum wage wherever people live and do business.

We Need You: How You Can Help

Minimum wage increases continue to be one of the most powerful and concrete mechanisms we have for boosting the incomes of working people, helping businesses and communities thrive, and building a healthy economy.

Here are some concrete ways you can help support efforts to raise the minimum wage at the state and federal level:

  • Make a donation to Business for a Fair Minimum Wage on Giving Tuesday or anytime. Bronner’s will be generously matching all donations now through December 31! Our business network is a much-needed counter to powerful business lobbies that regularly—and falsely—claim that increasing the minimum wage hurts businesses and kills jobs. We’ve built an unparalleled coalition of business people around the country who speak out against these false narratives and advocate for fair wages—and we’re gearing up to win new campaigns in the states and raise the federal minimum wage. As a non-profit organization, we count on donations to help us continue to educate, organize and grow our coalition, lift up new voices and work together to win. Donate here!
  • Support businesses who pay fair wages and support raising the minimum wage. On our website, you can see business examples and lists of businesses—like Dr. Bronner’s—who are working with us to raise the minimum wage in campaigns across the country. Vote with your consumer dollars, and let them know that their fair wage advocacy matters to you!
  • Make your voice heard! Tell your elected representatives that you support fair wages, talk with your friends and local business people about the growing national business movement in support of raising the minimum wage, and help amplify minimum wage campaigns via social media. You can find us on twitter at @MinimumWageBiz.
Author Profile

Holly Sklar

Holly Sklar is Founder and CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, a national network of business owners and executives and business organizations that believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense. Dr. Bronner’s is a leading member of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage.

See all stories by Holly Sklar