November 29, 2016 marks the fourth anniversary of the Fight for $15 movement, which began in New York City in 2012 when fast-food workers walked off their jobs demanding $15 an hour and union rights. Since then, through national strikes, protests and other action, the Fight for $15 has helped spur a wave of minimum wage increases by state and local governments and by individual employers—and made income inequality and flagging paychecks one of the nation’s top economic issues.
In this brief, we quantify the scale of the higher wages that the Fight for $15 movement has helped deliver to date. We find the following:
- Since the Fight for $15 launched in 2012, low-wage workers have won $61.5 billion in annual raises (Table 1) through a combination of state and local minimum wage increases (Tables 4 and 5) together with action by employers to raise their companies’ minimum pay scales (Table 6). This figure represents the total additional annual income workers will receive once these approved increases fully phase in.
- To put these wage gains in context, this $61.5 billion raise delivered by the Fight for $15 to workers in just a handful of states is more than 10 times larger than the total raise received by workers in all 50 states under Congress’s last federal minimum wage increase, approved in 2007.
- Of the $61.5 billion in additional income, 66 percent is the result of landmark $15 minimum wage laws that the Fight for $15 won in California, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, SeaTac and Washington, D.C. over the past few years (Table 2).
- A total of 19 million workers across the nation will benefit from these raises sparked by the Fight for $15.
- 1 million of those workers won raises this month when voters approved minimum wage ballot initiatives in Arizona ($12 by 2020), Colorado ($12 by 2020), Maine ($12 by 2020), Washington State ($13.50 by 2020), and Flagstaff, AZ ($15 by 2021) in the November 2016 elections (Table 3).
Table 1: Summary of Impact of Fight for $15 Since 2012
|Jurisdiction||No. of Affected Workers||Income Increase for All Workers at End of Phase-In (2016$)|
|Executive Order||200,000||Not available|
Table 2: Landmark $15 Minimum Wages Passed
|Employer||No. of Affected Workers||Total Income Increase for All Affected Workers (2016$)|
|Los Angeles, CA||609,000||$2,981,316,870|
|San Francisco, CA||142,000||$405,985,100|
Note: California figures do not include Los Angeles or San Francisco, but do include San Jose.
Table 3: November 2016 Minimum Wage Ballot Victories
|Employer||No. of Affected Workers||Total Income Increase for All Affected Workers (2016$)|
Note: Arizona figures do not include Flagstaff.
Table 4: Impact of Fight for $15 Since 2012: State Minimum Wage Increases
|State||Approved Minimum Wage||Old Minimum Wage||Percent Increase||No. of Affected Workers||Annual Income Increase per Worker at End of Phase-In (2016$)||Total Income Increase for All Workers (2016$)|
Note: Estimate for Arizona does not include Flagstaff; for California includes all cities and counties except Los Angeles City, San Francisco and San Jose; for Maine includes all cities; for Maryland, does not include Montgomery County or Prince George’s County; and for Washington State includes all cities except Seattle and SeaTac.
Table 5: Impact of Fight for $15 Since 2012: Local Minimum Wage Increases
|Local Jurisdiction||Approved Minimum Wage||Old Minimum Wage||Percent Increase||No. of Affected Workers||Annual Income Increase per Worker at End of Phase-In (2016$)||Total Income Increase for All Workers (2016$)|
|Albuquerque, NM||$8.50||$7.50||13.3||Not available||$1,021||Not available|
|Bernalillo County, NM||$8.50||$7.50||13.3||10,000||$1,021||$10,211,036|
|Cook County, IL||$13.00||$8.25||57.6||200,000||$4,411||$882,147,748|
|Los Angeles, CA||$15.00||$9.00||66.7||609,000||$4,895||$2,981,316,870|
|Johnson County, IA||$10.10||$7.25||39.3||10,100||$3,011||$30,413,338|
|Las Cruces, NM||$10.10||$7.50||34.7||17,500||$2,656||$46,476,302|
|Linn County, IA||$10.25||$7.25||41.4||18,400||$3,170||$58,324,092|
|Miami Beach, FL||$13.31||$8.05||65.3||Not available||$5,005||Not available|
|Montgomery County, MD||$11.50||$7.25||58.6||80,000||$4,490||$359,232,379|
|Polk County, IA||$10.75||$7.25||48.3||60,000||$3,001||$180,055,800|
|Prince George’s County, MD||$11.50||$7.25||58.6||Not available||$4,490||Not available|
|San Francisco, CA||$15.00||$10.74||39.7||142,000||$2,859||$405,985,100|
|San Jose, CA||$15.00||$10.00||50.0||115,000||$3,000||$345,000,000|
|Santa Fe County, NM||$10.66||$7.50||42.1||28,000||$3,227||$90,362,693|
|Wapello County, IA||$10.10||$7.25||39.3||Not available||$3,011||Not available|
Note: Estimates for cities and counties in California (other than Los Angeles City, San Francisco and San Jose), Maine, and Washington State (other than Seattle and SeaTac) are included in the state subtotal. Estimates for preempted cities and counties, localities with minimum wage laws lower than approved state minimum wage laws, and localities whose minimum wage laws were challenged in court and are currently being litigated are not included in the local subtotal.
Table 6: Impact of the Fight for $15 Since 2012: Employer Minimum Wage Increases
|Employer||New Minimum Pay||No. of Affected Workers||Total Income Increase for All Affected Workers (2016$)|
|Starbucks||5% – 15% over current pay||150,000||Not available|
|TXJ Companies (TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Home Goods, Sierra Trading Post)||$10.00||79,200||Not available|
|Costco||$13.00 – $13.50||67,600||Not available|
|Gap, Inc.||$10.00||65,000||Not available|
|Massachusetts homecare workers (SEIU)||$15.00||35,000||Not available|
|California State University||10.5% over current pay||26,000||Not available|
|Los Angeles Unified School District (SEIU)||$15.00||20,000||Not available|
|JP Morgan Chase||$12.00 – $16.50||18,000||Not available|
|Missouri homecare workers||$10.15||12,000||Not available|
|University of Pittsburgh Medical Center||$15.00||10,000||Not available|
|University of Washington||$15.00||5,500||Not available|
|Golden Living, Genesis Healthcare and Oak Health nursing homes||$15.00||5,000||Not available|
|Steward Health Care hospitals (SEIU)||Up to $15.00||5,000||Not available|
|University of California||$15.00||3,200||Not available|
|Allina Health Hospitals||$15.00||3,000||Not available|
|Denver janitorial workers in 27 companies (SEIU)||$15.00||2,400||Not available|
|John Hopkins Hospital||$15.00||2,000||Not available|
|University of Rochester||$15.00||1,700||Not available|
|Endurance International Group||$14.00||1,500||Not available|
|University of Minnesota||$15.00||1,500||Not available|
|Nationwide Mutual Insurance||$15.00||900||Not available|
|Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center||$15.00||850||Not available|
|Jackson Lab||$15.00||800||Not available|
|Consulate Health Care||$10.40 – $15.00||700||Not available|
|Lynn Community Health Center||$15.00||550||Not available|
|UW Credit Union||$15.00||500||Not available|
|Amalgamated Bank||$15.00||425||Not available|
|JM Family Enterprises||$16.00||400||Not available|
|Washington Hospital (Pennsylvania)||$15.00||400||Not available|
|Tufts Medical Center||$15.00||225||Not available|
|Boston Medical Center||$15.00||200||Not available|
|Hudson River HealthCare||$15.00||180||Not available|
|Duquesne University||$16.00||168||Not available|
|Ruby Receptionists||$15.00||150||Not available|
|Seattle Central Co-Op grocery store||$15.36||125||Not available|
|Internet Truck Stop||$15.00||110||Not available|
|Hello Alfred||$18.00||100||Not available|
|C1 Bank||$15.00||30||Not available|
|Curriculum Associates||$15.00||22||Not available|
|Moo Cluck Moo||$15.00||20||Not available|
|First Green Bank||$14.40||10||Not available|
|Popolo Italian Eatery||$15.00||7||Not available|
|Ben & Jerry’s||$16.92||Not available||Not available|
|Columbia University (students)||$15.00||Not available||Not available|
|Delta Diner||$15.00||Not available||Not available|
|Earth Friendly Products||$17.00||Not available||Not available|
|Facebook (contractors)||$15.00||Not available||Not available|
|Hermit Woods Winery||$15.00||Not available||Not available|
|Knack Factory||$15.00||Not available||Not available|
|New York University (students)||$15.00||Not available||Not available|
Note: This is not a comprehensive list of employers taking voluntary action to raise their minimum pay. Rather, it is based on news stories reporting on employer action to increase their minimum pay, but there are likely additional employers who have also raised their wages without publicity.
 In 2007, Congress approved raising the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 in three 70 cent steps in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The total wage impact of the third and final step was estimated at $1.6 billion annually. See Kai Filion, Fact Sheet For 2009 Minimum Wage Increase: Minimum Wage Issue Guide, Economic Policy Institute, updated July 21, 2009, http://www.epi.org/publication/mwig_fact_sheet/. While estimates of the total wage impact for the first two 70 cent steps were not available, those impacts would be no larger than $1.6 billion, as affected workers were disproportionately clustered closer to the $7.25 wage level. Thus, we estimate the total wage impact of the three steps at less than $4.8 billion annually (three times the impact of the final step). The $61.5 billion total wage impact of minimum wage increases since November 2012 is therefore easily more than 10 times the size of that of the 2007 federal minimum wage increase.
 Unless otherwise noted, citations for worker impact estimates can be found in National Employment Law Project, Minimum Wage a Big Winner on Election Day. November 2016, http://www.nelp.org/wp-content/uploads/Minimum-Wage-Wins-2016-Elections.pdf. Total income increase estimates derived by multiplying the number of workers affected, by the per-worker income increase at the end of the phase-in period.
 Ken Jacobs and Ian Perry, $15 Minimum Wage in California: Who Would be Affected by the Proposal to Raise California’s Minimum Wage?, Center for Labor Research & Education, University of California-Berkeley, Mach 30, 2016, http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/15-minimum-wage-in-california/.
 Michael Reich, Ken Jacobs, Annette Bernhardt and Ian Perry, The Proposed Minimum Wage Law for Los Angeles: Economic Impacts and Policy Options, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, University of California-Berkeley, March 20, 2015, http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/the-proposed-minimum-wage-law-for-los-angeles-economic-impacts-and-policy-options/.
 Michael Reich, Ken Jacobs, Annette Bernhardt and Ian Perry, San Francisco’s Proposed City Minimum Wage Law: A Prospective Impact Study, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, University of California-Berkeley, August 27, 2014, http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/san-franciscos-proposed-city-minimum-wage-law-a-prospective-impact-study/.
 Op. cit., National Employment Law Project, endnote 2.
 Op. cit., National Employment Law Project, endnote 2. Where available. we use already-existing estimates of annual per worker income increases and the number of workers affected, to calculate the total annual income increase for all workers at the end of the phase-in period. Where wage estimates are not available, we calculate the average income increase per 1 percent increase in the minimum wage, and use that figure to calculate first, the annual per worker income increase, and second, the total annual income increase for all workers at the end of the phase-in period. All wage estimates are reported in 2016 dollars. Citations to individual studies, where available, will follow in endnotes below.
 Op. cit., Ken Jacobs and Ian Perry, endnote 3. Estimates do not include Los Angeles, San Francisco or San Jose.
 Worker impact estimates provided by the Bell Policy Center, a member of the Colorado Families for a Fair Wage. Total wage estimates in Colorado Families for a Fair Wage, Frequently Asked Questions, “How Will Raising the Minimum Wage Affect Colorado’s Economy?” http://www.coloradofamiliesforafairwage.org/faqs/.
 Maine Center for Economic Policy, Restoring the Value of Work: A $12 Minimum Wage will Strengthen Maine’s Economy and Enable Working Mainers to Make Ends Meet, August 2016, http://www.mecep.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Minimum-wage-brief_final_08-17-16.pdf. All Maine cities are included in the estimates.
 David Cooper, Raising the Maryland Minimum Wage will Benefit Nearly Half a Million Workers and Modestly Boost the State’s Economy, Economic Policy Institute, January 31, 2014, http://www.epi.org/files/2014/MD_to_1010%201_31_14.pdf. Estimates do not include Montgomery County.
 Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, Rewarding Work: The Data on an $11 Minimum Wage, June 19, 2014, http://www.massbudget.org/report_window.php?loc=Facts-6-17-14.html.
 Yannet M. Lathrop, Raising the Minimum Wage: Good for Working Families, Good for Michigan’s Economy, Michigan League for Public Policy, February 2014, http://www.mlpp.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Raising-Minimum-Wage.pdf.
 Kellie Wasikowski, “How a Minimum Wage Increase Could Impact Nebraskans,” The Daily Nebraskan, November 3, 2014, http://www.dailynebraskan.com/news/how-a-minimum-wage-increase-could-impact-nebraskans/article_e6080132-6321-11e4-a324-0017a43b2370.html. Annual per worker wage increase calculated by subtracting the pre-increase annual income from the projected annual income at the new wage level.
 Jon Whitten, The Stimulus New Jersey Needs: Raising the Minimum Wage Would Boost the Economy While Providing Better Opportunities for Hundreds of Thousands of Working New Jerseyans, New Jersey Policy Perspective, May 16, 2013, https://www.njpp.org/reports/the-stimulus-new-jersey-needs-raising-the-minimum-wage-would-boost-the-economy-while-providing-better-opportunities-for-hundreds-of-thousands-of-working-new-jerseyans. Annual per worker wage increase calculated by dividing total wage increase by the number of impacted workers.
 Michael Reich, Sylvia Allegretto, Ken Jacobs and Claire Montialoux, The Effects of a $15 Minimum Wage in New York State, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, University of California-Berkeley, March 2016, http://irle.berkeley.edu/files/2016/The-Effects-of-a-15-Minimum-Wage-in-New-York-State.pdf.
 Only the highest minimum wage rate for New York is listed here, and does not affect estimates.
 The highest minimum wage rate, applicable to the Portland metropolitan area, was used to calculate impact in Oregon but should have only minimal impact on overall estimates for the state.
 South Dakota Budget and Policy Institute, SD Increased Minimum Wage, Initated Measure 18 Impact Analysis, September 2014, http://www.sdbpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SD-Increased-Minimum-Wage-Initated-Measure-18.pdf.
 Op. cit. endnote 7.
 Op. cit., Michael Reich, Ken Jacobs, Annette Bernhardt and Ian Perry, endnote 4.
 Peter Fisher, The Case for a Polk County Minimum Wage, The Iowa Policy Project, May 16, 2016, http://iowapolicyproject.org/2016Research/160516-minwage-Polk.html. We take the lowest wage estimate in the study ($3,350 for a proposed $12 minimum wage), and lower it by 10.42 percent to reflect the lower minimum wage of $10.75, which was approved by the county.
 Op. cit., Michael Reich, Ken Jacobs, Annette Bernhardt and Ian Perry, endnote 5.
 Michael Reich, Claire Montialoux, Sylvia Allegretto, Ken Jacobs, Annette Bernhardt, and Sarah Thomason, The Effects of a $15 Minimum Wage by 2019 in San Jose and Santa Clara County, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, University of California-Berkeley, June 2016, http://irle.berkeley.edu/files/2016/The-Effects-of-15-Minimum-Wage-by-2019-in-San-Jose-and-Santa-Clara-County.pdf.
 Nicole Vallestero Keenan and Howard Greenwich, The Economic Impacts of a Transportation and Hospitality Living Wage in the City of SeaTac, Puget Sound Sage, September 2013, http://www.pugetsoundsage.org/downloads/PSSage%20-%20Economic%20Analysis%20of%20SeaTac%20Living%20Wage%20-%209-25-13.pdf.
 Nicole Vallestero Keenan and Howard Greenwich, Economic and Equity Outcomes of a $15/hr Minimum Wage in Seattle, Puget Sound Sage, April 2014, http://www.pugetsoundsage.org/downloads/Economic%20and%20Equity%20Outcomes%20of%20a%20$15%20Minimum%20Wage%20in%20Seattle_1.pdf.
 David Cooper, Raising the D.C. Minimum Wage to $15 By 2020 Would Lift Wages for 114,000 Working People, Economic Policy Institute, May 4, 2016, http://www.epi.org/publication/raising-the-d-c-minimum-wage/.
 Worker impact estimates for most employers in this table can be found in National Employment Law Project, Minimum Wage a Big Winner on Election Day. November 2016, http://www.nelp.org/wp-content/uploads/Minimum-Wage-Wins-2016-Elections.pdf. Note that this is not a comprehensive list of employers taking voluntary action to raise their minimum pay. Rather, it is based on news stories reporting on employer action to increase their minimum pay, but there are likely additional employers who have also raised their wages without publicity.
 Wage estimates were calculated by multiplying the number of affected workers by (an assumed) $1 increase in minimum pay, and 1,250 hours worked per worker per year.
 Michelle Mowad, “LAUSD Will Raise Minimum Wage for Cafeteria Workers, Custodians to $15/Hr,” Echo Park Patch, July 1, 2014, http://patch.com/california/echopark/lausd-will-raise-minimum-wage-for-cafeteria-workers-custodians-to-15hr.
 Jessica Bartlett, “Steward Health to Give 5,000 Union Workers Raises in New Contract,” Boston Business Journal, August 2, 2016, http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/health-care/2016/08/steward-health-to-give-5-000-union-workers-raises.html.
 David Migoya, “Unionized Janitors in Denver Metro Area Ratify New Contract, Deal Covering 27 Companies in 180 Buildings Means $15/Hour Pay,” The Denver Post, updated July 14, 2016, http://www.denverpost.com/2016/06/30/denver-janitors-union-new-contract/.
 “Florida Nursing Home Workers Win Minimum Wage Increase Putting Thousands On Path To $15,” West Orland News, May 26, 2016, http://westorlandonews.com/florida-nursing-home-workers-win-minimum-wage-increase-putting-thousands-on-path-to-15/.
 Maddi Shaw, “Bellows Falls Restaurant Jump-Starts $15 Minimum Wage,” Brattleboro Reformer, June 8, 2016, http://www.reformer.com/stories/bellows-falls-restaurant-jump-starts-15-minimum-wage,141878.
 Bryce Covert, “Diner Says Tipping Is ‘Contrary’ To Its ‘Staff-Oriented Model,’ Drops It In Favor Of Better Wages,” Think Progress, July 15, 2015, https://thinkprogress.org/diner-says-tipping-is-contrary-to-its-staff-oriented-model-drops-it-in-favor-of-better-wages-cd62a3b69f13#.umz4yq8xc.
 Dan Seufert, “Meredith winery hikes its hourly wage to $15,” New Hampshire Union Leader, August 18, 2016, http://www.unionleader.com/article/20160819/NEWS02/160819106.
 Alex Steed, “Why my Company Settled on $15 per Hour Starting Wage,” BDN Maine, October 9, 2015, http://bangordailynews.com/2015/10/09/opinion/contributors/why-my-company-settled-on-15-per-hour-starting-wage/.