COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- The push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 continues. It would be a three step increase and the first for tipped employees in more than 20 years.
"The buying power of the minimum wage has declined by a third in the last 40 years or so, the last generation," said U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.
The federal minimum wage was last raised in 2007 when President George W. Bush signed legislation to make it $7.25 for hourly employees. If passed, the Fair Minimum Wage Act would increase by 95 cents over each of the next three years.
"Just to keep up with inflation the minimum wage needs to go up to $10.10 an hour," Brown said.
Tipped employees can currently make no less than $2.13 an hour. Under the bill that would shoot up to $7.07 per hour.
“Earning a base of $2.13 an hour, even with tips, isn’t very much-not when you need to put food on the table, fill your gas tank, send your children to school, and provide a safe place for them to live. Every hardworking American deserves the opportunity to earn a living wage," he said.
Brown pointed to a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute that found that raising the federal minimum wage for both tipped and non-tipped workers would lift 4.6 million people out of poverty, with the potential to boost GDP by nearly $33 billion and generate 140,000 new jobs over three years as workers spend their raises in their local businesses and communities.
"It may mean a slight increase in price, but it also means less turnover, better morale, and fewer dollars spent on job retraining," said Brown.
Brown was joined by Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Columbus Congresswoman Joyce Beatty at Brothers Drake Meadery in Columbus Tuesday.
Perez says when it comes to tipped employees, the majority are women, they're three times more likely to live in poverty, one in seven are on food stamps, and many are trying to support children. He says only 12 percent of minimum wage workers are teenagers working entry-level jobs.