Even some Democrats say a $15 minimum wage is too high

The House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, just passed a bill that would more than double the federal minimum wage, from $7.25 per hour to $15.

The bill has almost no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate and becoming law. That’s probably fortunate.

While the “fight for $15” has become a liberal rallying cry, even some Democrats acknowledge a minimum wage that high would hurt some businesses and probably kill some jobs. “In certain parts of the country—especially in rural areas – $15 an hour is not realistic,” Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper told Yahoo Finance recently. “You have to regionalize it.”

Economists agree. The Congressional Budget Office found recently that raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2025 would boost pay for at least 17 million workers. But it would also kill 1.3 million jobs. The logic is straightforward: If companies must pay more for workers, their profit margins will shrink and some will hire fewer people. After Seattle raised its minimum wage in 2015 and 2016, researchers found that some workers ended up better off and a smaller portion ended up worse off.

RELATED: U.S. fast food worker protests for $15 minimum wage

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U.S. fast food worker protests for $15 minimum wage
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Low wage workers and supporters protest for a $15 an hour minimum wage on November 10, 2015 in New York, United States. In what organizers are calling a National Day of Action for $15 and hour minimum wage, thousands of people took to the streets across the country to stage protests in front of businesses that are paying some of their workers the minimum wage. Home care workers, employees in retail and fast food restaurants say that the current minimum is not a living wage. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio makes an appearance in support of low wage workers, many in the fast-food industry, as they join with supporters to demand a minimum wage of $15 an hour on November 10, 2015 in New York, United States. In what organizers are calling a National Day of Action for $15 and hour minimum wage, thousands of people took to the streets across the country to stage protests in front of businesses that are paying some of their workers the minimum wage. Home care workers, employees in retail and fast food restaurants say that the current minimum is not a living wage. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Low wage workers and supporters protest for a $15 an hour minimum wage on November 10, 2015 in New York, United States. In what organizers are calling a National Day of Action for $15 and hour minimum wage, thousands of people took to the streets across the country to stage protests in front of businesses that are paying some of their workers the minimum wage. Home care workers, employees in retail and fast food restaurants say that the current minimum is not a living wage. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Low wage workers and supporters protest for a $15 an hour minimum wage on November 10, 2015 in New York, United States. In what organizers are calling a National Day of Action for $15 and hour minimum wage, thousands of people took to the streets across the country to stage protests in front of businesses that are paying some of their workers the minimum wage. Home care workers, employees in retail and fast food restaurants say that the current minimum is not a living wage. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Low wage workers and supporters protest for a $15 an hour minimum wage on November 10, 2015 in New York, United States. In what organizers are calling a National Day of Action for $15 and hour minimum wage, thousands of people took to the streets across the country to stage protests in front of businesses that are paying some of their workers the minimum wage. Home care workers, employees in retail and fast food restaurants say that the current minimum is not a living wage. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Low wage workers and supporters protest for a $15 an hour minimum wage on November 10, 2015 in New York, United States. In what organizers are calling a National Day of Action for $15 and hour minimum wage, thousands of people took to the streets across the country to stage protests in front of businesses that are paying some of their workers the minimum wage. Home care workers, employees in retail and fast food restaurants say that the current minimum is not a living wage. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Low wage workers and supporters protest for a $15 an hour minimum wage on November 10, 2015 in New York, United States. In what organizers are calling a National Day of Action for $15 and hour minimum wage, thousands of people took to the streets across the country to stage protests in front of businesses that are paying some of their workers the minimum wage. Home care workers, employees in retail and fast food restaurants say that the current minimum is not a living wage. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - SEPTEMBER 10: Laura Rollins joins with others to protest in front of a McDonald's restaurant in support of a $15 an hour minimum wage on September 10, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles are among cities that have adopted a $15 an hour minimum wages. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - SEPTEMBER 10: Laura Pierre joins with others to protest in support of a $15 an hour minimum wage on September 10, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles are among cities that have adopted a $15 an hour minimum wages. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 22: Marie Gasaway protests with fast food workers and community activists outside a McDonald's restaurant in the Loop on June 22, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The protestors were calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $15-dollars-per-hour. The demonstration was staged to coincide with the 4th hearing of the Wage Board in New York City as it debates the $15-dollar-per-hour increase for its workers. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - SEPTEMBER 10: Protesters in support of a $15 an hour minimum wage march together on September 10, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles are among cities that have adopted a $15 an hour minimum wages. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 22: A woman begs for change as fast food workers and community activists protest outside a McDonald's restaurant in the Loop on June 22, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstrators were calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $15-dollars-per-hour. The demonstration was staged to coincide with the 4th hearing of the Wage Board in New York City as it debates the $15-dollar-per-hour increase for its workers. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 22: Juan Hernandez, 8, protests with his mother, who works for McDonald's, and other fast food workers and community activists outside a McDonald's restaurant in the Loop on June 22, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The protestors were calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $15-dollars-per-hour. The demonstration was staged to coincide with the 4th hearing of the Wage Board in New York City as it debates the $15-dollar-per-hour increase for its workers. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 22: Fast food workers and community activists protest outside a McDonald's restaurant in the Loop on June 22, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The protestors were calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $15-dollars-per-hour. The demonstration was staged to coincide with the 4th hearing of the Wage Board in New York City as it debates the $15-dollar-per-hour increase for its workers. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 22: Fast food workers and community activists protest outside a McDonald's restaurant in the Loop on June 22, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The protestors were calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $15-dollars-per-hour. The demonstration was staged to coincide with the 4th hearing of the Wage Board in New York City as it debates the $15-dollar-per-hour increase for its workers. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Demonstrators march past a McDonald's Corp. restaurant during a rally in Oak Brook, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Labor activists seeking $15-an-hour wages marched on McDonald's headquarters on Wednesday, marking the second straight year of protests ahead of the fast-food chain's annual meeting. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 22: Fast food workers and community activists protest outside a McDonald's restaurant in the Loop on June 22, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The protestors were calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $15-dollars-per-hour. The demonstration was staged to coincide with the 4th hearing of the Wage Board in New York City as it debates the $15-dollar-per-hour increase for its workers. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Demonstrators march during a rally near a McDonald's Corp. restaurant and the headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Labor activists seeking $15-an-hour wages marched on McDonald's headquarters on Wednesday, marking the second straight year of protests ahead of the fast-food chain's annual meeting. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A demonstrator holds a sign that reads 'People and Planet over Profit' during a rally near a McDonald's Corp. restaurant and headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Labor activists seeking $15-an-hour wages marched on McDonald's headquarters on Wednesday, marking the second straight year of protests ahead of the fast-food chain's annual meeting. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Demonstrators march during a rally near McDonald's Corp. headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Labor activists seeking $15-an-hour wages marched on McDonald's headquarters on Wednesday, marking the second straight year of protests ahead of the fast-food chain's annual meeting. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Demonstrators march during a rally near McDonald's Corp. headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Labor activists seeking $15-an-hour wages marched on McDonald's headquarters on Wednesday, marking the second straight year of protests ahead of the fast-food chain's annual meeting. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Home health care workers and other protesters hold signs at a rally in support of minimum wage increase in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Fast-food workers held rallies in 236 U.S. cities Wednesday in their biggest protest yet for higher pay and union rights. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Home health care workers hold signs at a rally in support of minimum wage increase in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Fast-food workers held rallies in 236 U.S. cities Wednesday in their biggest protest yet for higher pay and union rights. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Protesters hold signs at a rally in support of minimum wage increase in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Fast-food workers held rallies in 236 U.S. cities Wednesday in their biggest protest yet for higher pay and union rights. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Protesters hold signs at a rally in support of minimum wage increase in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Fast-food workers held rallies in 236 U.S. cities Wednesday in their biggest protest yet for higher pay and union rights. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Protesters hold up a Ronald McDonald puppet at a rally in support of minimum wage increase in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Fast-food workers held rallies in 236 U.S. cities Wednesday in their biggest protest yet for higher pay and union rights. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Signs lay in the street before the start of a rally in support of minimum wage increase in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Fast-food workers held rallies in 236 U.S. cities Wednesday in their biggest protest yet for higher pay and union rights. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Protesters hold signs at a rally in support of minimum wage increase in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Fast-food workers held rallies in 236 U.S. cities Wednesday in their biggest protest yet for higher pay and union rights. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 15: Demonstrators gather in front of a McDonald's restaurant to call for an increase in minimum wage on April 15, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstration was one of many held nationwide to draw attention to the cause. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 15: Demonstrators gather in front of a McDonald's restaurant to call for an increase in minimum wage on April 15, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstration was one of many held nationwide to draw attention to the cause. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 15: Demonstrators gather in front of a McDonald's restaurant to call for an increase in minimum wage on April 15, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstration was one of many held nationwide to draw attention to the cause. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Fast food workers, healthcare workers and their supporters shout slogans at a rally and march to demand an increase of the minimum wage to 15USD per hour, in Los Angeles on December 4, 2014. The nationwide protest is expected to reach 190 US cities. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Fast food workers, healthcare workers and their supporters shout slogans at a rally and march to demand an increase of the minimum wage to 15USD per hour, in Los Angeles on December 4, 2014. The nationwide protest is expected to reach 190 US cities. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Two women order food as striking fast food workers, home healthcare workers and their supporter shout slogans inside a MCDonalds during a rally and march to demand an increase of the minimum wage to 15USD per hour, in Los Angeles on December 4, 2014. The nationwide protest is expected to reach 190 US cities. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 04: Protesters march through the streets demanding a raise on the minimum wage to $15 per hour on December 4, 2014 in New York, United States. The movement, driven largely by fast food workers, has risen in prominence in the past year; today's protests were also joined by demonstrators angry at the Grand jury verdict to not indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner in July, 2014. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 04: Protesters march through a McDonalds demanding a raise on the minimum wage to $15 per hour on December 4, 2014 in New York, United States. The movement, driven largely by fast food workers, has risen in prominence in the past year; today's protests were also joined by demonstrators angry at the Grand jury verdict to not indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner in July, 2014. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 04: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to low-wage federal contract workers during a protest where the workers demanded presidential action to win an increase to $15 an hour wage December 4, 2014 in Washington, DC. A number of workers were expected to walk off their jobs later in the day as part of the protest. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 04: Low-wage federal contract workers block rush hour traffic on Independence Avenue while demanding presidential action to win an increase to $15 an hour wage December 4, 2014 in Washington, DC. A number of workers were expected to walk off their jobs later in the day as part of the protest. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Hickenlooper’s floor for a suitable federal minimum wage is far below the level many of his fellow Democrats target. “In most places, they can get to $8, $9, probably $10,” the former Colorado governor says. “There are parts of Colorado where you would want to start out at $12. But right now, there are too many businesses at subsistence.”

Graphic by David Foster/Yahoo Finance

If Hickenlooper sounds sympathetic to business owners, that’s because he ran a string of brewpubs in Denver before winning election as mayor, then moving up to governor. He’s one of the most moderate of the twentysomething Democrats running for president, favoring a return to free trade, a limited expansion of government health care options and robust capitalism over creeping socialism.

Like some economists, Hickenlooper says a single national minimum wage level doesn’t make a lot of sense, given wide variations in living costs. “It can’t be a blanket,” he says. “Sometimes the federal government gets into this notion that one size is going to fit all. I don't think you want to put a huge burden on small businesses that are already having a pretty stiff challenge competing with these massive corporations.”

Rick Newman is the author of four books, including “Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success.” Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman

Confidential tip line: rickjnewman@yahoo.com. Encrypted communication available. Click here to get Rick’s stories by email.

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