“We Need a Livable Minimum Wage”: Louisiana $15 Minimum Wage Bill Advances


Senate Bill 49, which proposes a $15 minimum wage in Louisiana advanced on Wednesday out of Committee. Not only would it double Louisiana’s minimum wage, it would also stipulate that the minimum wage is increased each year by the percentage increase in the federal government’s Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers

It cleared the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee, which is chaired by the author of the bill, Troy Carter. The Committee voted 3-2 along party lines to advance the bill. Proponents of the bill anticipate fierce resistance to it as the debate widens, and the bill is taken to the Senate floor. This isn’t Carter’s first attempt at raising the minimum wage. He also tried to pass a bill that established a $9 minimum wage in 2019 unsuccessfully. 

Governor John Bel Edwards supports the bill, as he has supported previous efforts to raise the minimum wage. “We call essential workers heroes for continuing to work throughout this pandemic, yet, even when they work full time, we don’t pay them enough to cover their essential needs,” said Edwards when opening the Legislative Session.”I am one of the overwhelming majority of Louisianans who want a meaningful increase to the minimum wage that will help workers support their families and enjoy a better quality of life.”

According to Susan East Nelson from the Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families, low wages contribute to food insecurity for one in four children in Louisiana, “We ought to be ashamed because children are going hungry because people here don’t think we need a livable minimum wage.”

The $15 minimum wage raise is long overdue for Louisiana, which does not have a minimum wage floor, so it abides by the federal government’s $7.25 minimum wage.

Jan Moller, of the Louisiana Budget Project, explained that the minimum wage has lost 20% of its purchasing power through inflation since it was last raised. If it had kept up with productivity since 1968, it would be $22 now. 

Opponents of the bill argue that the burden would be too great on businesses and would cost workers jobs. Dawn McVea of the National Independent Federation of Businesses testified that “Small businesses would absolutely have to raise the price of goods and services, decrease hours worked or go to part-time labor.” McVea calculated that 36,000 people would lose their jobs in Louisiana if the bill passed.

“The notion that the sky will fall; we’ve heard that before,” Carter said dismissing opponents’ concerns. Moller noted that Arkansas’ unemployment rate is almost half that of Louisiana’s, even after that state raised its minimum wage to $11 an hour. Arkansas joined 27 other states that have successfully raised their minimum wage above $7.25.

A recent Ipsos survey of the American public, commissioned by Amazon, found that 4 out of 5 Americans are in favor of raising the federal minimum wage. These results reflect bipartisan agreement amongst the American people that the current minimum wage is far too low. 

In the same survey, half of Americans supported raising the wage to $15 an hour. This survey revealed that the debate over minimum wage isn’t about increasing it, if politicians actually listened to their constituents that would be a no-brainer. It’s about how much it should be increased. Of course, for many politicians the pleas of the American people for a livable minimum wage aren’t as loud as the big businesses whispering in their ears and filling their pockets.

Louisiana needs to raise its minimum wage to provide its people with better, safer, healthier, and happier lives. Carter explained when presenting the bill, “If we give our people the opportunity to do better our communities will do better.”


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