In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Obama announced that he would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 for some federal contract workers, an order that some groups hope will propel forward the enactment of federal minimum wage legislation.
“Last night’s State of the Union was most remarkable for President Obama’s emphasis on expanding shared prosperity and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Most striking was his commitment to use executive action to raise the minimum wage for employees of new federal contractors, which is an important step toward raising the minimum wage for all.”
The President urged Congress to “get on board,” noting that the minimum wage today is worth about 20 percent less than when Ronald Reagan first took office. He also called on them to codify the raise into federal law by supporting the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which Sen. Tom Harkin, D. Iowa, and Rep. George Miller, D. Calif., introduced following Obama’s call to raise the minimum raise in last year’s address.
Obama’s plan to get America’s economy moving forward again also included proposals to bolster job training programs, a call to Congress to restore the unemployment insurance that legislators let expire for 1.6 million people at the end of last year, and a commitment to ensuring that women—who still make only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns—are paid equally for equal work.
“Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by – let alone get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all,” the President said in his speech. “Our job is to reverse these trends.”
To learn more about the national landscape of poverty in America, see the Half in Ten campaign’s state-by-state report, which examines 14 indicators of economic security and opportunity at the state level, and their annual report, “Resetting the Poverty Debate: Renewing Our Commitment to Shared Prosperity.”