Robert Reich Explains the $15 Minimum Wage in Two Minutes and 30 Seconds

Here’s today’s must-watch video: former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich takes a flip chart and a marker and, in 2 minutes and 30 seconds, explains exactly how a $15 minimum wage would benefit the economy.

Reich’s thesis: “No one who works full time should be in poverty. Nor should their family.” Admittedly, this leaves some people out — people with caretaking responsibilities who prefer part-time work, people with disabilities or illnesses who want to work but don’t have enough spoons for a 40-hour workweek, etc. — but at this point I feel like getting to a place where no full-time worker lived in poverty would be a huge step forward.

Reich quickly explains that if the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would be $10.52 today; if it had kept up with growth in worker productivity, it would be $21.72. We are literally shortchanging our workers.

He then breaks down arguments against a $15 minimum wage, such as “but the majority of minimum-wage workers are teenagers” and “raising the minimum wage means employers will hire fewer people.”

(Also, re: teenagers: why shouldn’t they earn $15 an hour too? Why is there this assumption that teenagers don’t deserve decent wages? They could use that money to offset part of their college costs or start a small business or otherwise prepare for the expenses of adulthood.)

Lastly, he explains how a $15 minimum wage will benefit the economy, including job growth and increased spending. I wish this section had gone on for at least two minutes more, first because Reich is a very compelling speaker (and flip chart artist), and second because I wanted him to talk about whether companies would raise prices, how a minimum wage increase might affect housing and rent, the advantages that children receive as their parents’ income goes up, and so on.

Reich closes with “A decent society ensures all workers get a decent wage.” Watch the video and let us know if you agree with his specific arguments for increasing the minimum wage, as well as the effects a $15 minimum wage would have on the economy.

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