Sewell pushes regionalized minimum wage plan on Capitol Hill

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) is taking a different approach to raising the federal minimum wage. But her plan could face pushback from her own party.

Rep. Sewell has a different approach to raising the federal minimum wage. (Source: Gray DC)

“All of us want a higher minimum wage,” said Sewell. “Different regions of America have different costs of living.”

Her legislation would create a tiered system for raising the minimum wage based on Bureau of Economic Analysis data. The lowest tier would consist of places like Tuscaloosa, Alabama and the highest would be a place like New York City, NY. Her federal standard would raise Tuscaloosa to $8.10 per hour this year and $11.40 per hour by 2024. New York City would be have a federal mandate of $10.60 per hour this year, and $15.10 by 2024.

“It’s important that we have...that all proposals are considered on the table,” said Sewell.

Sewell fears people will lose their jobs if there is a $15 dollar baseline. She says some businesses in her district cannot afford to pay that.

The progressive wing of her party will not give up the fight for $15 per hour.

“Folks today in basically any county in America would need at least 13 dollars an hour to achieve a truly secure standard of living,” said Dave Cooper form the liberal leaning Economic Policy Institute.

He says raising the wage to $15 per hour would put more money in pockets, allowing for the injection of more cash into the economy. He says Sewell’s regional approach is not aggressive enough in tackling a low wage problem.

“Folks shouldn’t be left behind simply because they live in an area where prices and wages have historically been lower,” said Sewell.

Sewell’s legislation has 12 moderate Democrat cosponsors. It is currently being held in a House committee.

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