A former top staffer in AOC’s office said he left his position earlier this year because he ‘couldn’t afford the job’

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., questions Postmaster General Louis DeJoy during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on slowdowns at the Postal Service ahead of the November elections on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC on August 24, 2020.

  • A former AOC staffer said he left his position earlier this year because of low pay among Congressional staffers.
  • In a Monday letter, the New York lawmaker called for a budget increase in order to boost staff salaries.
  • The letter comes two weeks after an Insider report detailing the low pay among many Capitol Hill staffers.
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A former senior advisor to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said he left his position on Capitol Hill earlier this year, in large part, because of low pay among Congressional staffers.

“She’s a great boss and I adored my colleagues,” Dan Riffle, former senior counsel and policy adviser for the influential New York lawmaker said in a Monday tweet. “But with two kids in daycare I just couldn’t afford the job.”

Riffle’s tweet was in response to a Monday letter, led by Ocasio-Cortez, calling for a budget increase among House offices in order to boost staff salaries.

More than 100 House members signed the letter addressed to Rep. Rosa DeLauro, chair of the House Committee on Appropriations. In it, lawmakers call for a 21% increase in order to account for a “much-needed” increase in staff pay and benefits.

The letter said an increase would be an “important first step” in recruiting and retaining a “diverse and talented workforce.”

The letter comes two weeks after a report by Insider’s Kayla Epstein detailed the shockingly low pay among many Capitol Hill staffers and the lengths some go to in order to live in Washington, DC, one of the nation’s most expensive cities, while still fulfilling their dreams of public service.

Junior level staffers can start out in the low $20,000s to $30,000s in a city where the average one-bedroom apartment costs more than $2,000 a month. Some resort to working second jobs on top of the demanding jobs for Congress.

Congressional staff jobs are notorious in the industry for their low wages, but according to Riffle, it’s not just the private sector that offers more competitive pay.

“It’s not just that the Hill pays less than K street,” Riffle said, referring to the street known as a hub for lobbyists and advocacy groups. “It’s less than non-profit or local gov’t.”

In a followup tweet, Riffle said he had taken a new job in local government.

Riffle did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

His former boss, Ocasio-Cortez, has been a vocal proponent of livable wages among workers, supporting a $15 minimum wage and frequently calling out corporations she believes don’t offer financial security or opportunity for their employees.

The young lawmaker has also been outspoken about the issue of staff pay since she took office in January 2019. Insider previously reported that salaries in her office start at $52,000, almost double what some offices pay their most junior staffers.

“She pays junior staff more than most other offices, and senior staff less than most, which was the right thing to do,” Riffle said in a followup tweet.

Ocasio-Cortez’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Each Congressional office is given the same amount of funding for staff salaries. It’s up to each lawmaker to decide how many staffers he or she will hire and how to divide up pay.

But as Congressional staffers wrap a historically difficult year that saw a pandemic, an insurrection, and economic downturn, higher wages could be on the horizon.

In a previous statement to Insider, Appropriations Chair DeLauro said, “A workforce that reflects America’s diversity is essential to a well-functioning Legislative Branch. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that Congressional staff compensation allows the House to recruit and retain a talented and diverse staff to help us carry out our important work.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

A $15 minimum wage still won’t be a living wage for many families, MIT and CNBC analysis says

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A protestor holds a sign in Upper Senate Park during a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 22, 2015, to push for a raise to the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

A new CNBC analysis of cost-of-living data from Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers looks at how a $15 minimum wage stacks up against a living wage.

For families with two children and two parents working at the minimum wage, current minimums in every state are below a living wage, and even the proposed increase to $15 an hour may still fall short for those families. As CNBC reports: “A $15 minimum wage would push a number of states closer to a living wage, but none would meet or exceed it.”

That data doesn’t take into account any income those families receive from safety net programs. A recent study from UC Berkeley’s Labor Center found that lower wages cost taxpayers more than $100 billion a year, as almost half of the families who would see a raise from a $15 minimum wage rely on at least one social safety net program. The study found that 42% of the $254 billion spent on safety net programs goes to those families.

A $15 minimum wage would go a little bit further for single adults, according to the CNBC analysis. For them, minimum wages currently “fall short” of a living in every state. However, a $15 minimum wage would be a living wage for single adults in about half of the states.

Insider previously reported on the value that a $15 minimum wage would have in every state. Since the cost of living varies in each state, the value of the wage also fluctuates. Insider found that the new potential minimum would go the furthest in Mississippi, where it would be worth $17.77. Per the CNBC analysis, Mississippi is one state where a $15 minimum wage would provide a living wage for single adults. 

Democrats are currently pushing for a $15 minimum wage as part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus relief package, aiming to pass the increase through reconciliation. However, Biden has reportedly indicated that he thinks the raise won’t be feasible – and two Democratic senators have also expressed their hesitations.

But the $15 minimum-wage’s champion, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has said he’s “confident” the hike will stay in the stimulus package. Under the current Democratic plans, the minimum wage would gradually increase to $15 by 2025. By then, $15 won’t even be worth what today’s $15 is because inflation will impact its value.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Every state raising its minimum wage in 2021

minimum wage protest
A group of BLM demonstrators protest about $15 minimum wage in Lower Manhattan’s financial district on July 20, 2020.

Some hourly workers will see larger paychecks in 2021. Twenty states already increased their minimum wages at the start of the year, and several more will see boosts in the coming months. 

Workers in New Mexico will get the largest bump. They’ll receive an additional $1.50 an hour, with the state’s hourly wage now cracking four digits. 

Overall, the movement to increase the minimum wage saw major gains in 2020, and the federal minimum wage could see a major boost in 2021: President-elect Joe Biden’s new stimulus plan would boost the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

“Nobody working 40 hours a week should be living below the poverty line,” Biden said in a speech Thursday.

As Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig noted in an analysis, raising the minimum wage has not consistently negatively impacted employment – and could put more money in the pockets of 27 million workers.

A 2019 Pew Research Center poll found that 67% of Americans support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour; Insider polling from 2019 also found that 63% of respondents supported the increase. 

A record-breaking number of jurisdictions will increase their minimum wages in 2021, according to a report from the National Unemployment Law Project. Here’s where workers are already getting paid more – and where they will soon.

In Alaska, the minimum wage rose by $0.15 to $10.34 effective January 1.

Anchorage
Anchorage, Alaska.

The increase is part of an annual adjustment for inflation, according to the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Arizona’s minimum wage also increased annually for inflation, going from $12 to $12.15.

Arizona
The city of Flagstaff has its own higher minimum wage.

Per the Economic Policy Institute, the city of Flagstaff actually has its own, higher minimum wage. In 2021, the minimum wage in Flagstaff will be $15.

In Arkansas, the minimum wage increased from $10 to $11 effective January 1.

arkansas
Highway in Arkansas in 2010.

The raise comes from a 2018 ballot measure.

In California, the minimum wage increased from $13 to $14 effective January 1.

irvine california
Irvine, California.

From 2017 on, the minimum wage has increased yearly.

In Colorado, the minimum wage increased from $12 to $12.32.

Aspen Colorado

After the minimum wage reached $12 in January 2020, the state now adjusts annually for cost of living.

Connecticut is set to increase the minimum wage from $12 to $13 on August 1.

Norwich Connecticut
Norwich, Connecticut.

The wage will gradually increase until it’s $15 in 2023.

On January 1, the minimum wage in Florida increased from $8.56 to $8.65. It will increase to $10 effective September 30.

Florida Keys, Florida
Florida Keys, Florida.

Florida is incrementally raising its minimum wage to $15 by 2026, making it the most conservative state to do so, as Insider previously reported.

In Illinois, the minimum wage increased from $10 to $11.

Chicago Theater
Chicago has its own minimum wage.

Illinois also has two areas with different minimum wages, according to the Economic Policy Institute: Chicago and its surrounding Cook County. In Chicago, the minimum wage will increase from $14 to $15 on July 1. In Cook County, the minimum wage of $13 will see an annual increase on July 1 tied to the consumer price index.

In Maine, the minimum wage increased from $12 to $12.15.

Freeport Maine
Freeport, Maine.

It’s the first annual increase for cost of living.

In Maryland, the minimum wage increased from $11 to $11.75 effective January 1.

Lexington Park Maryland
Lexington Park, Maryland.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, Maryland also has two areas with different minimum wages: Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.

On July 1, the minimum wage in Montgomery County will increase from $14 to $15. Prince George’s County had its own minimum wage of $11.50 until January 1, when it changed to Maryland’s state rate.

In Massachusetts, the minimum wage increased from $12.75 to $13.50 effective January 1.

Boston, Massachusetts
Boston, Massachusetts.

The minimum wage will increase by an additional $.75 in 2022 and in 2023.

In Minnesota, the minimum wage rose from $10 to $10.08 effective January 1.

Red Wing, Minnesota
Red Wing, Minnesota.

The rate was adjusted for inflation.

In Missouri, the minimum wage increased from $9.45 to $10.30 effective January 1.

st louis highway
Light traffic in St. Louis.

The minimum wage will increase by $0.85 again in 2022 and 2023.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, both Kansas City and St. Louis passed their own minimum wage ordinances in 2015, although their rates are the same as the state’s.

In Montana, the minimum wage increased from $8.65 to $8.75.

whitefish montana
Whitefish, Montana.

Gov. Steve Bullock said the wage is tied to inflation.

In Nevada, the minimum wage is set to increase from $9 to $9.75.

Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada.

The wage will gradually increase to $12 in 2024.

In New Jersey, the minimum wage increased from $11 to $12.

Camden, New Jersey
Camden, New Jersey.

The state’s minimum wage will increase by $1 each year until hitting $15 in 2024.

In New Mexico, the minimum wage increased from $9 to $10.50.

Taos, New Mexico
Taos, New Mexico.

The state minimum wage will gradually increase through 2023, when it will become $12.

In New York, the minimum wage increased from $11.80 to $12.50, effective December 31, 2020.

New York City
New York City.

In New York City, the minimum wage is $15, and in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties the minimum wage increased from $13 to $14 on December 31, 2020, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

In Ohio, the minimum wage increased from $8.70 to $8.80.

Dayton Ohio
Dayton, Ohio.

The state had an annual increase on January 1.

In Oregon, the minimum wage is set to increase from $12 to $12.75 on July 1.

Eugene Oregon
Eugene, Oregon.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, both the Portland Urban Growth Boundary and non-urban counties have different minimum wages. (Under state law, each metropolitan area has such a land use planning line around its perimeter, to control urban expansion.)

In the Portland Urban Growth Boundary, the minimum wage will increase from $13.25 to $14.50 on July 1. And in non-urban counties, the minimum wage will increase from $11.50 to $12 on July 1.

In South Dakota, the minimum wage increased from $9.30 to $9.45.

Pierre South Dakota
Pierre, South Dakota.

The state had an annual increase on January 1.

In Vermont, the minimum wage increased from $10.96 to $11.75.

Montpelier Vermont
Montpelier, Vermont.

The wage rose as part of annual indexing.

In Virginia, the minimum wage is set to increase from $7.25 to $9.50 on May 1.

Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia.

The wage will gradually increase until it is $15 in 2026.

In Washington, the minimum wage increased from $13.50 to $13.69.

Olympia Washington
Olympia, Washington.

The state adjusts the wage each year with a cost-of-living increase.

Read the original article on Business Insider