Mark Miller reports that the racial gap in retirement wealth is especially stark.
In 2019, the median net wealth – including home equity – of white households over age 65 was $326,170, compared with just $75,190 for Black households, and $63,560 for Latinos.
A majority of Black and Latino retirees have trouble covering basic living expenses, according to the Elder Index. a data set from the University of Massachusetts Boston.
How would a federal $15 minimum wage change that?
A $15 federal minimum wage would translate into a raise for nearly one-third of Black Americans and one-quarter of Latinos, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
The group’s research indicates that only 10% of minimum wage earners are teenagers.
The minimum wage is an issue for the elderly.
According to Miller, a single worker who earns the current minimum wage for her entire life and claims Social Security benefits this year at her full retirement age would receive a monthly benefit of $979.80. With a lifetime income of $15 per hour, her monthly benefit would be $1,409.60.
A higher minimum wage also would improve the long-range solvency woes of the Social Security trust funds. The program is funded mainly by the 12.4% payroll tax, which is split evenly by workers and employers, so the trust fund’s health is highly sensitive to improvements – or deterioration – of the payroll tax base. The Social Security trustees report last year indicated that faster wage growth could improve the program’s long-range finances by as much as one-third.
Many mistakenly view a $15 federal minimum wage as mainly impacting young people. This is demonstrably false.
Although young workers deserve a living wage as much as anyone, many of the poor elderly who are disproportionately Black and Brown, would be huge beneficiaries if Biden and the Democrats act.
And that’s who elected them.