Senator Elizabeth Warren made a splash last week when she brought up the idea of a U.S. minimum wage of $22 an hour. According to a March 19 Huffington Post article, the senator was referring to a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research that came up with the idea of a $22 an hour minimum wage. Sen. Warren actually supports raising the federal minimum wage to about $10 an hour in incremental steps over the next two years. This is the same wage plan that President Barack Obama proposed when he gave his State of the Union address.
Senate bill S.460, the Fair Minimum Wage act of 2013, is proof that many in the Senate are also ready to support a $10 an hour minimum wage.
The $22 per hour minimum wage idea came up when Sen. Warren was speaking to Dr. Arindrajit Dube, a University of Massachusetts Amherst professor. She summarized the report finding and asked why the workers did not get more money.
"If we started in 1960 and we said that as productivity goes up, that is as workers are producing more, then the minimum wage is going to go up the same. And if that were the case then the minimum wage today would be about $22 an hour, so my question is Mr. Dube, with a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, what happened to the other $14.75? It sure didn't go to the worker."
The March 2012 Center for Economic and Policy Research report titled "The Minimum Wage is too Damn Low" (PDF) used two minimum wage calculation ideas. The first idea involved U.S. productivity growth between 1968 and 2012 and found that the comparative minimum wage should be at $22 an hour. The second idea used Congressional Budget Office inflation totals to arrive at a much more popular hourly minimum wage of around $10.