President Barack Obama is again encouraging Congress to pass a bill raising the minimum raise to $10.10 an hour.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says increasing the pay for minimum-wage workers would help 28 million workers. He says Republican lawmakers not only don’t want to increase the minimum wage, some want to get rid of it entirely.
In a dig at Republicans in Congress, Obama says they have taken more than 50 votes against his health care law but resist one vote on the minimum wage bill.
In the Republican address, House Speaker John Boehner says the federal government needs to get out of the way as small businesses try to plan for the future.
The minimum wage helps support family incomes, reducing inequality and poverty—especially for female earners. But as the real value of the minimum wage been allowed to erode, it has stopped serving this important purpose. The minimum wage is now just 36 percent of the average wage and trending lower, as those at the low end of the income distribution are in increasing danger of being left behind while the economic recovery continues to unfold.
Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would benefit a wide range of families. New estimates from the Council of Economic Advisers find that when it is fully phased in 28 million workers would see a raise, including 19 million making less than $10.10 and another 8 million with wages just above $10.10 who would benefit from the ripple effect. These wages increases would be progressive with nearly half of the benefits going to households making under $35,000, but they would also benefit millions of middle class families, for example ones in which a spouse worked part-time at the minimum wage to help the family’s overall income. In total more than half of the workers that benefit are women. Only 12 percent of minimum wage beneficiaries are teenagers and the remainder of the beneficiaries include a wide cross section of families with children, couples, and others.
Workers of color would benefit greatly from raising the minimum wage. Nationally, more than 12 million Black, Asian, and Hispanic workers would see their wages rise by $16.1 billion.
And, despite the political controversy, economists overwhelmingly agree that raising the minimum wage would reduce poverty — specifically, if Congress raised the minimum wage to $10.10, as Democrats are proposing, 4.6 million people would be lifted out of the poverty. This would yield significant economic payoff for the nation as a whole — a recent report found that raising the minimum wage would boost GDP by $22 billion.
Read the President’s address below, or watch it above, courtesy of the White House.
Hi, everybody. In my State of the Union Address, I talked about pizza. More specifically, I talked about a pizza chain in Minneapolis – Punch Pizza – whose owner, John Soranno, made the business decision to give his employees a raise to ten bucks an hour.
A couple weeks ago, I got a letter from a small business owner who watched that night. Yasmin Ibrahim is an immigrant who owns her own restaurant – Desi Shack – and plans to open another this summer.
Here’s what she wrote. “I was moved by John Soranno’s story. It got me thinking about my … full-time employees and their ability to survive on $8 an hour in New York City.” So a few weeks ago, Yasmin put in place a plan to lift wages for her employees at both her restaurants to at least $10 an hour by the end of this year.
But here’s the thing – Yasmin isn’t just raising her employees’ wages because it’s the right thing to do. She’s doing it for the same reason John Soranno did. It makes good business sense.
Yasmin wrote, “It will allow us to attract and retain better talent – improving customer experience, reducing employee churn and training costs. We believe doing so makes good business sense while at the same time having a positive impact on the community.”
Yasmin’s right. That’s why, two months ago, I issued an Executive Order requiring workers on new federal contracts to be paid a fair wage of at least ten dollars and ten cents an hour.
But in order to make a difference for every American, Congress needs to do something. And America knows it. Right now, there’s a bill that would boost America’s minimum wage to ten dollars and ten cents an hour. That would lift wages for nearly 28 million Americans across the country. 28 million. And we’re not just talking about young people on their first job. The average minimum wage worker is 35 years old. They work hard, often in physically demanding jobs.
And while not all of us always see eye to eye politically, one thing we overwhelmingly agree on is that nobody who works full-time should ever have to live in poverty. That’s why nearly three in four Americans support raising the minimum wage. The problem is, Republicans in Congress don’t support raising the minimum wage. Some even want to get rid of it entirely. In Oklahoma, for example, the Republican governor just signed a law prohibiting cities from establishing their own minimum wage.
That’s why this fight is so important. That’s why people like John and Yasmin are giving their workers a raise. That’s why several states, counties, and cities are going around Congress to raise their workers’ wages. That’s why I’ll keep up this fight. Because we know that our economy works best when it works for all of us – not just a fortunate few. We believe we do better when everyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead. That’s what opportunity is all about.
And if you agree with us, we could use your help. Republicans have voted more than 50 times to undermine or repeal health care for millions of Americans. They should vote at least once to raise the minimum wage for millions of working families. If a Republican in Congress represents you, tell him or her it’s time to give the politics a rest for a while and do something to help working Americans. It’s time for “ten-ten.” It’s time to give America a raise.
Thanks, and have a great weekend.
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