In their new COVID-19 relief bill, House Democrats have included a minimum wage hike, but resistance from some Senate Democrats means it is not at all clear if they will have the votes to pass it.

The improvement in worker pay is unrelated in that it has long been a Democratic priority to raise the minimum wage. It is entirely related to the fact that the COVID-19 economy has damaged low-wage workers, such as those in food service, child care, and home health care who cannot work from home, and more than hurt people who can work remotely. 

Gov. Brown Signs Landmark Legislation Raising CA Minimum Wage To $15 Per Hour
(Photo : David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04: A Service Employees International Union member celebrates after California Governor Jerry Brown signed landmark legislation SB 3 into law on April 4, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. The law makes California the first state in the nation to commit to raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour statewide.

Current minimum wage

The federally mandated wage is $7.25 per hour, but the minimum wage is different in each county. Other states have much higher minimum wage than the others. Besides, cities are even higher than the rest of their states. In Washington DC, the highest minimum wage is $15 per hour, as per CNN

There is also a significant exception to the minimum wage for workers who earn tips, like waiters. For those jobs, the federal wage is just $2.13 an hour.

Although states and cities have significantly increased their minimum wages-in some areas, with voters' passage of ballot measures-more than a decade has elapsed since the federal minimum wage was last raised in 2009.

The 12-year gap is the largest margin in the history of American employees without a bump. The minimum pay was first enacted at 25 cents an hour in 1938. Not as far in 2009 as it goes. You would need $8.81 per hour in 2021 to be equivalent to $7.25 in 2009 because of inflation.

The federal minimum wage has fallen in that sense. In terms of inflation and buying power, the $1.60 minimum wage in 1968 will be worth around $12.27 in 2021. Sanders plans to increase the minimum wage incrementally until it hits $15 per hour in 2025--by $1 or $1.50 per year.

However, this next section is necessary. Instead of depending on Congress to vote to increase the minimum wage again after ten years or so, a bill proposed by Sanders would mandate the Department of Labor to raise it based on Bureau of Labor Statistics reports per year.

Since too many states have their own higher minimum wages, the federal minimum wage comprises relatively few American workers. According to the Economic Policy Institute, more than half of the states, 29 have a minimum wage greater than $7.25, and 45 cities have a minimum wage higher than their own.

With inflation, a significant majority of the states with a minimum wage greater than $7.25 immediately increase it. Salaries go up on January 1 in 20 states. For employers with 26 or more workers, California has the highest statewide minimum wage of $14 per hour. But San Francisco and other cities in the state have higher wages, as do New York, Seattle, and others.

Read also: More Than Half of Americans Favorably Approve Biden's First Month as President

What to know about people making minimum wage?

They are mostly young and are less likely to have more than a high school diploma if that is the case. They are more likely to do part-time jobs than full-time work. There is a greater percentage of women than men, and they are less likely to marry.

The service sector, particularly food service, is the top industry for people earning minimum wages. According to BLS, the states with the greatest percentage of minimum wage jobs are in the South - Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Less than 5 percent of employees paying per hour receive minimum wages in the vast majority of states.

Read also: High-Profile Economists Fear Biden's Stimulus Package Could Cause a Harmful Inflation Spike

Federally regulated $15, many leftists prefer an hour minimum wage because they see it as a step toward a living wage. However, one criticism from the Left is that $15 is not enough, the Washington Examiner via MSN reported. 

There is a reason why people like businessman Tom Steyer and Michigan Democrat socialist Rep. Rashida Tlaib say they want to raise the wage above $15 an hour: in areas with a high cost of living, it is not enough to live on without public assistance.

Steyer and Tlaib are correct that $15 an hour is not a living wage in many parts of the country. They are looking at the wrong solution to the issue, however. According to the Congressional Budget Office, raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour would eliminate at least 1.3 million jobs. It would disproportionately impact teenagers seeking the opportunity to build work experience for that first job.

Another solution requires a bit of deeper thinking instead of doubling the minimum wage and killing jobs: lowering the cost of living. Conservatives of limited-government can support many policies that do this.