New Congress Will Likely Boost Minimum Wage

One of the first actions of the new Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives will directly affect U.S. businesses.

Increasing the minimum wage in the “first 100 hours” will be a priority when the 110th Congress convenes this month, said California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who will become the House’s first female speaker.

Meanwhile, voters in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Ohio approved proposals to increase those states’ minimum wages, creating a majority of states that require higher pay than the federal rate.

The federal minimum wage, which hasn’t changed in nine years, is $5.15. It could rise to $7.25 under the new Democratic majority, but boosting it will face some opposition. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for one, opposes the move, saying it would put a greater burden on small businesses and price least-qualified workers out of the labor market. If the wage is increased, says the Chamber, there should be a corresponding reduction in government regulations on small businesses.