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5 Reasons it Makes Sense for Obama to Back a $10.10 Minimum Wage

5 Reasons it Makes Sense for Obama to Back a $10.10 Minimum Wage

Written by Bryce Covert

While President Obama came out in support of a $9 minimum wage in his most recent State of the Union, he’s bringing the issue up again — and is now voicing his support for a $10.10 raise, something Democrats introduced in March. Here’s why getting behind that raise makes sense for workers and the economy:

1. It would bring it in line with inflation: While the federal minimum wage isn’t indexed to inflation (unlike some state minimum wages) and hasn’t been raised in four years, if it had kept up with inflation since its peak in the 1960s it would be over $10 an hour. Many fast food workers have been calling for a $15 minimum wage — a rate that will soon go into effect in a small town in Washington state — which is more in line with what civil rights activists demanded in the 1960s.

2. It would boost the economy: While opponents of a minimum wage increase claim that it will hurt job growth, research points to the opposite. There is little evidence that it would hurt jobs, but it would very likely help businesses through increasing demand, lowering turnover and boosting prices and would give the economy a big boost thanks to more money in people’s pockets to spend on purchases.

3. It would lift millions out of poverty: Full-time minimum wage workers earn just $14,500 a year, which for someone with two kids means living $3,000 below the poverty line. The wage isn’t enough to make rent in any state. Raising it to $10.10 an hour, on the other hand, would lift nearly 6 million people out of poverty.

4. It would be a big help for women and people of color: People of color make up 42 percent of minimum wage workers despite representing just 32 percent of the overall workforce, and women make up two-thirds of the country’s minimum wage workers despite being half of the population. Raising the wage to $10.10 an hour would lift 3.5 million people of color out of poverty and help close the gender wage gap.

5. Americans support it: A recent poll showed that 80 percent of Americans support raising the wage to $10.10 an hour, and that includes two-thirds of Republicans and nearly 80 percent of those making $100,000 or more. On Tuesday, voters approved minimum wage increases in New Jersey and a town in Washington and they also approved raises in the 2012 elections in three other cities. In fact, when given the opportunity, voters nearly always approve minimum wage raises by substantial majorities.

While House Republicans unanimously voted down Democrats’ bill to raise the wage to $10.10 an hour in March, at least 67 Republicans serving at that time supported a raise in the wage under President George W. Bush.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

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Photo Credit: Neerav Bhatt

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138 comments

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4:46PM PST on Nov 23, 2013

Joanna M, my husband is only making $8.55 an hour working as a security guard despite having over 25 years of experience in the field, and despite having completed four years of training in the HVAC field, he still cannot get a job as an HVAC apprentice! He's been applying for job after job in the HVAC field for TWO YEARS, and he still can't even get his foot in the door! You tell HIM he's not marketable and isn't trying to better himself! Don't even get me started on how being a stay-at-home mom and all the job skills it involves isn't even considered a REAL job! You'd rather I bust my ass at a minimum-wage job and watch my paycheck get sucked up by daycare, leaving my kids to be "programmed" or "recruited" by the conservative Christian churches since they're the only ones in our town that provide daycare programs (for a steep price if you're a member of the working class!).

Minimum wage should mean LIVING wage. There is simply no excuse for the steep divide between the pay scale and the cost of living in this supposedly "great" nation.

8:09PM PST on Nov 18, 2013

How about all employees at all jobs get paid $20. an hour, then the busness owners can apply for welfare since 'creating the jobs' is their contribution. That would change this boring same old debate now wouldn't it? Would the government giving them money be called a hand out?Would they be expected to keep creating jobs so all the people in a community would have a job? Would people still call it 'being on the dole' if there were'nt enough jobs because the job creaters just couldn't make enough jobs?
The point is, you expect the impossible, then blame the victom because they can't print their own money, and the job creaters because they can't use up our natural resources fast enough to make enough jobs for every body, like they ever have in all of our recorded history. JEEEZE People, just STOP this insanity!

5:23PM PST on Nov 17, 2013

If the minimum wage kept pace with inflation and productivity since 1973, it would be $28/hr today.

3:43PM PST on Nov 15, 2013

In YOUR town they may be a large percentage. In Most cities they are not. The problem is that lawmakers hear YOUR sgtory and try to sell it as common all over the country and use it as an excuse to not raise the minumum wage. Prices have quadrupled in many many cases in the same time that minimum wage has barely creapt up.

Yes there are some poor that take advanatge of the system. There always have been. But they didnt CREATE the system. They are simply trying to survive in it. Pay the people more than welfare pays and they will go to work.

4:12AM PST on Nov 15, 2013

@Robert - I understand that. However, you also have to bear in mind that there are different demographics in different areas, and that too colors what people say/think. I live in a small city with an extremely high rate of "poverty" - yet at the same time only 40% of our freshmen graduate from the high school, we have a very high teen pregnancy rate (many of the teens becoming parents more than once before their 20th birthday), and a general lifestyle of "it's ok to live on the government because that's what everyone I know does." Thus, the few that actually do go out and get jobs (many don't) go to these minimum wage positions, and within a short time start to complain about how it's just "not enough." Well, what did YOU put into it? This is really the demographic I'm talking about, not those that tried their best and ended up overqualified. Obviously those folks can't help being held hostage by the economy.

10:20PM PST on Nov 14, 2013

Joanna many many people making minimum wage right now afe over qualified for the job they have….NOT under. They are working for that wage because there is nowhere else to work.
Not because they are lazy.

MOST people are UNDEREMPLOYED right now. why is that so hard for some people to grasp. THERE ANTENT ENOUGH JOBS. They have no incentive to create jobs they will jsut work the people they have half to death instead.

3:20PM PST on Nov 14, 2013

If someone is earning minimum wage, whatever it may be, that essentially means that the person has NO marketable skills...never went to college (perhaps never even finished high school), likely has no computer skills (except for texting or surfing websites), isn't playing any role at the workplace save a push-the-button, cog-in-the-machine type of employee. Of course everyone deserves financial independence, to be secure in where their next meal is coming from and perhaps even an occasional treat for their kids. However, on the other hand, if an employee is as I've just described above, it's also a little hard to feel sorry for how little they're earning because they have put essentially ZERO into bettering their own selves and increasing their own earning power. I used to work for a GED program; it's extremely easy to go take the test and have that HS diploma behind you. But I would hear every excuse in creation as to why someone couldn't do it. Also, as a teen, I worked in McDonald's. If you were a decent worker and there for more than a month or two, you could quickly work up to manager (naturally paid more). Yet many people spent YEARS doing nothing but simple cashier roles. Why?

4:34PM PST on Nov 13, 2013

That is simply inaccurate Dan. It may have been ttrue at some point in time but it isnt anymore. Most are workint two or 3 jobs jsut to pay the rent.

12:25PM PST on Nov 13, 2013

Karen,
Most full-time workers are paid a "living" wage. We are talking about young, unskilled part-time workers, many of whom live with their parents. They are not working for a living, but to earn extra spending money. Only 1% of minimum wage earners work full-time, and most of those are hoping to advance soon.

11:12PM PST on Nov 12, 2013

Thanks for this article.....Yes Min. wage needs to be raised....actually ...it needs to be doubled and have a "cost of living" increase yearly. People need to be paid a LIVING wage.....and women & minorities should not be being paid Less then (white) males.......and don't give me that old line about male "bread-winner" that's crap!

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