We support the call to raise the federal minimum wage. In his State of the Union address, President Obama showed vision and leadership by calling for a raise in the federal minimum wage as one way to “build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class.” Senator Tom Harkin and Congressman George Miller recently introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, a measure that would raise the federal minimum wage for the first time since 2009. Below are key messages about why the House and Senate should move swiftly to pass this increase in the minimum wage:
- The current minimum wage can’t support families. The federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, amounts to only $15,080 a year. That’s over $7,000 below the federal poverty line for a family of four. A minimum wage worker working 40 hours a week cannot afford a two bedroom apartment in any state in America. People who work for a living should be able to support their families and live off their wages.
- Workers put their money right back into our economy. Increasing the minimum wage will not only help struggling families make ends meet, it will also spur economic growth. Low- to middle-income individuals are more likely to immediately spend any additional pay than other income groups. A 2011 Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago study showed that a $1 hike in the minimum wage increases spending by $2,800 a year in households with minimum wage workers.
- Americans overwhelmingly support an increase in the minimum wage. Nearly three-quarters – 73 percent – support increasing the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. A 56 percent majority believe that increasing the minimum wage would help the economy.
- We get $7.25. They get 725 percent. CEO pay has risen 725 percent over the last 30 years and 80 percent of all real income growth has gone to the richest 1 percent of Americans. It’s time that workers got a raise.
- We have some catching up to do. The federal minimum wage has fallen far behind the pace of inflation. In fact, workers making minimum wage today make less than they did in 1968 when adjusted for inflation. Meanwhile, worker productivity has doubled during this time but they have yet to share in the benefits of their labor.
- By passing the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, Congress can become champions for millions of Americans who work 40 hours a week and are still struggling to get by. Nobody with a full-time job should be forced to live below the poverty line.
Together, we can end the growing gap between the richest 1% and the rest of us.