On January 22, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce that instructed the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to provide him with a report “with recommendations to promote a $15/hour minimum wage for Federal employees.”
In addition to raising the federal minimum wage, the Executive Order overturned three of the previous administration’s executive orders that weakened job and union protections for federal workers.
An accompanying fact sheet to the Executive Order stated that President Biden wants his administration to begin work that would allow him to issue an Executive Order within the first 100 days of his administration that “requires federal contractors to pay a $15 minimum wage and provide emergency paid leave to workers.” He also directed the OPM “to develop recommendations to pay more federal employees at least $15 per hour.”
A federal minimum wage was implemented in 1938 with the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The current federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour; it was last increased in 2009.
On January 26, 2021, U.S. House and Senate Democratic leadership introduced the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 that seeks to raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour incrementally over the next four years. After that, the federal minimum wage would increase in line with median hourly wage growth. The following chart illustrates the scheduled minimum wage increases if the Act is passed: