Last updated on: 3/6/2024 | Author:

Should the Federal Minimum Wage Be Increased?

The federal minimum wage, introduced in 1938 during the Great Depression under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was initially set at $0.25 per hour. The rate has been increased by Congress 22 times, most recently in 2009 from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour. Most states plus Washington, D.C., have a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage, though several states do not have minimum wage laws (which means workers in those states default to the federal minimum wage). For more on minimum wage, explore the ProCon debate.

PRO (yes)


Joe Biden:

“A job is about more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. When I was running for president, I said it was past time to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Last year, I made a down payment on that pledge with Executive Orders directing my Administration to work toward ensuring that employees working on federal contracts and federal employees earned a $15 per hour minimum wage….

These [federal] workers benefiting from these [executive] actions are critical to the functioning of the federal government and of our nation, and I’m proud that their wages will begin to reflect that. I continue to urge Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, so that American workers can have a job that delivers dignity.”


White House, “Statement by President Joe Biden on $15 Minimum Wage for Federal Workers and Contractors Going into Effect,”, Jan. 28, 2022


Robert F. Kennedy, Jr:

“People who work hard should be able to afford a decent life.

That is the guiding principle of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s economic policies.

It’s hard to believe that once upon a time, a blue-collar worker with a high school education could support a family, take vacations, and even save for retirement. Technology has made our productivity many times higher — so why is life poorer, not richer, than in the 1960s? Why do people just accept that life will get slowly worse?

Kennedy does not accept it. We can restore the American middle class by reversing the missteps of the last 50 years. A massive military machine has nearly bankrupted this country. Rampant corruption in Washington has put corporations in charge, enriching the wealthiest as working people have dropped out of the middle class. Official unemployment is low — but most of the new jobs are in the low-pay service sector. Wealth inequality in the country is at a 100-year high. More than 60% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, with no savings for an emergency. Take-home pay after inflation and taxes has fallen 9% since Biden took office.

Under the Biden administration, the price of an average home has risen from $250,000 to around $400,000, and mortgage rates have more than doubled. Rents have followed the trend, putting more and more people on the edge of catastrophe.

But we can turn it around. Being able to afford a decent life doesn’t mean working more hours. It means higher pay and lower bills.

Here is what Kennedy will do to make that a reality: Raise the minimum wage to $15, which is the equivalent to its 1967 level.”


Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., “Cost of Living,” (accessed Oct. 31, 2023)

CON (no)

Not Clear or Not Found

Donald Trump:

“How are you helping your small businesses when you’re forcing wages? What’s going to happen, and what’s been proven to happen, is when you do that, these small businesses fire many of their employees…. Alabama is different than New York. New York is different from Vermont. Every state is different. It should be a state option…. [I’d] consider it to an extent … in a second administration. But not to a level that’s going to put all these businesses out of business. It should be a state option.”

Editors’ Note: Donald Trump has previously expressed a variety of opinions on raising the federal minimum wage.


Louis Jacobson, “Does Donald Trump Think $15 an Hour Is ‘Too Much’ for Essential Workers?,”, Oct. 30, 2020