By Christina Zhao: Newsweek
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on Saturday reminded Americans that the federal tipped minimum wage has remained at $2.13 an hour since 1991.
Sanders, an independent, took to Twitter today to highlight the growing income and wealth disparity between tipped workers and America’s richest individuals.
“400 richest Americans wealth in 1991: $288 billion. 400 richest Americans wealth in 2021: $3.2 trillion. Tipped minimum wage in 1991: $2.13 an hour. Tipped minimum wage in 2021: $2.13 an hour. We must create an economy that works for all of us, not just the billionaire class,” he tweeted.
The federal tipped minimum wage has been stuck at $2.13 per hour for 30 years. During that same period, inflation has diminished the purchasing power of tipped employees. According to a U.S. inflation calculation, $2.13 in 1991 would be worth $4.21 in 2021, which means that inflation caused the federal tipped wage to lose nearly half its value over the past three decades
Several states, including Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, have already eliminated the tipped minimum wage. In New York, the tipped minimum wage was banned for all staffers except those who work in bars and restaurants.
Meanwhile, a joint analysis by Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute of Policy Studies, released in May, showed that the combined wealth of America’s more than 700 billionaires grew by 55 percent over the past 14 months of the coronavirus pandemic—from $2.9 trillion in March 2020 to $4.56 trillion in April 2021.
Elon Musk experienced the highest wealth growth among the group. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO saw his wealth grow from $24.6 billion in March 2020 to $149.2 billion in May 2021—an increase of $125 billion in roughly 14 months.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who came in second, saw his wealth grow by $70 billion during the same period, from $113 billion in March 2020 to $183 billion in May 2021. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg came in third, nearly doubling his wealth from $54.7 billion in March 2020 to $109 billion in May 2021.
For years, Sanders has pushed for Congress to amend the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. The senator’s latest effort to include the $15 minimum wage in President Joe Biden‘s $1.9 trillion stimulus package failed in the upper chamber earlier this year, as eight moderate Democrats sided with Republicans to oppose the amendment.