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Giving Thanks for Higher Wages

Filed in Minimum Wage By on November 24, 2014

priceofthanksgivingThere’s a lot to be thankful for this time of year. This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful that 17 states and the District of Columbia have increased their minimum wages since the beginning of 2013. Even though Congress has failed to act, these states have heeded President Obama’s call and as a result, seven million low-wage workers are set to get a badly-needed, well-deserved raise.

Who are these folks? There’s a myth they’re all teenagers working part time after school to earn extra spending cash for movies and the mall. Not so. They’re more likely to be breadwinners, responsible for leading households and paying bills. The median age of a minimum wage earner in today’s economy is 35. Nearly 90 percent of those who would benefit from the president’s proposal to increase the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 are over the age of 20, and more than half are working full time. Nearly six in ten of those who would benefit are women.

The traditional Thanksgiving meal costs $49. Sadly, that’s out of reach for too many hard-working moms and dads who are pinching pennies just to buy a gallon of milk or a gallon of gas. Right now, a full-time minimum wage worker earns around $15,000 a year. A family of four trying to get by on that salary is living 17 percent below the poverty line, even with tax credits.

That’s just unacceptable, and we can do better. A $10.10 minimum wage would lift two million Americans out of poverty. One in five children would see a parent get a raise. It would mean greater economic self-sufficiency, with 3.8 million people no longer needing food stamps and fewer depending on the charity of food banks. There’s no dignity in working 40 hours a week and then having to go to a food pantry in order to put dinner on the table.

If you work full time, you shouldn’t have to raise your family in poverty – simple as that. Rewarding hard work and responsibility with a fair wage is what this country is about. President Obama knows that, and so do a vast majority of Americans. I’m grateful that this Thanksgiving we’ve seen meaningful progress to raise wages for those barely making ends meet. Without question, we need to do more. We need a national minimum wage increase that will benefit 28 million people. I’m optimistic that it will happen – thanks to bold leadership from the president and the strong support of the American people.

 

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  1. Vicki Gallon-Clark says:

    Thank you for this timely response. I also thank President Obama and those 17 states for taking the action to lift financial oppression in a country where it does not have to exist!