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We’re Just Getting Started

We’re Just Getting Started

Big News on the Minimum Wage

President Obama hasn’t even taken the podium for tonight’s State of the Union address yet, but he’s already made big news when it comes to the minimum wage.

This morning we learned that the president will use his executive authority to raise the minimum wage paid by federal contractors under new contracts to $10.10 per hour. As CAP’s Neera Tanden said today, the move “will put more money in the pockets of hardworking Americans, who will spend it in their communities and help drive our economic growth.”

In addition to demonstrating the president’s commitment to creating an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few, which he recently called “the defining challenge of our time,” it underscores another theme we’re expecting to play a big role in tonight’s speech: action.

The current, Republican-controlled Congress is the least productive in history and has refused to even vote on popular items like universal background checks for gun buyers and immigration reform. Today’s announcement on the minimum wage shows that the president understands that we cannot afford to wait for a Do-Nothing Congress to help solve our country’s problems.

That said, the minimum wage is a great example of an area where a willing Congress can work with the president to immediately improve the lives of millions of Americans and help build a stronger economy with greater opportunities for all Americans. While the president’s executive action will help a lot of low-wage workers and is a major victory, Congressional action is required to raise the minimum wage nationwide.

Here are a few numbers to know about increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour:

73……the percentage of Americans who support it.

53……the percentage of Republicans who support it.

273……the ratio of the average CEO salary to that of the average worker. In 1965, CEOs made only 20 times the salary of the average worker.

$10.46……what the minimum wage would have been in 2012 if it had simply kept up with inflation since 1968.

$18.72……what the minimum wage would have been in 2012 if it had kept pace with gains in worker productivity since 1968.

$28.34……what the minimum wage would have been in 2012 if it had grown at the same rate as the wages of the top 1 percent since 1968.

$15,080……the annual earnings of a full-time minimum-wage worker at today’s $7.25 per hour minimum wage, which is $4,000 below the poverty line for a family of three.

17,000,000……the number of women, who make up approximately 2/3 of low-wage workers, whose wages would rise.

28,000,000……the number of workers whose wages would rise.

$32,600,000,000……the increase in economic activity during the period it is being phased in.

$51,000,000,000…..the increased wages that workers would earn while it is being phased in.

As you can see from these numbers, it’s well past time to raise the minimum wage for all workers. So when it comes to the president’s plan to raise the wages of federal contractors, we’re just getting started. The Senate is going to vote on a bill to raise the minimum wage for everyone, no matter where they live. It’s time for the House of Representatives to do the same.

And while we’re getting started, here are five other big ideas to help create an economy that works for everyone.

BOTTOM LINE: Raising the minimum wage will provide Americans who work hard a better opportunity to get ahead while giving the economy a needed shot in the arm. With a higher minimum wage, workers will have more money to spend, which in turn gives businesses more customers—helping them to hire more workers. This will kick-start a growing economy that will create more opportunities for those who work hard.