Raising the federal minimum wage as President Barack Obama and Democrats want would raise earnings for more than 16.5 million people by 2016. But it would also reduce employment by roughly 500,000 workers, according to Congress' nonpartisan budget analyst.
The Congressional Budget Office analysis comes as the Senate prepares to debate a Democratic plan to gradually increase the current $7.25 federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in 2016.
The budget office analysis examined the impact such a plan would have by 2016, when the increase would take full effect.
The analysts said their estimate of employment losses was approximate. They said the actual impact could range from a very slight employment reduction to a loss of 1 million workers.
Democrats say the wage boost would help workers. Republicans have warned it would cost jobs.