The Democrats have proposed a minimum wage hike to $10.10 per hour, more than a dollar more than the original proposal, and President Obama is behind them.
This legislation was introduced earlier this year by Senator Tom Harkin and Senator George Miller. Senator Majority Whip Dick Durbin stated that the White House was willing to get onboard with the measure.
"The President has long supported raising the minimum wage so hardworking Americans can have a decent wage for a day’s works to support their families and make ends meet, and he supports the Harkin/Miller bill that accomplishes this important goal," the White House official said in an email.
Harkin and Miller have said that a minimum wage hike to $9 would be insufficient. Not all democrats agree with Harkin and Miller. However, the president's support of the $10.10 hike may help more Democrats rally around the bill as the Senate takes it up in coming weeks.
"We are very pleased President Obama endorsed a $10 an hour minimum wage bill," Aaron Albright, a spokesman for Miller, said in an email. "This action unites all Democrats and minimum wage advocates behind one proposal that addresses income inequality in a powerful way. Congress must move to raise the minimum wage now."
Low wage worker advocates are thrilled at the measure since the federal minimum wage hasn't been raised since 2009. However, in states that don't mandate an increase the minimum wage remains at $7.25 per hour.
"The White House got this ball rolling in a big way by putting this in the State of the Union," said Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator at the National Employment Law Project. "I think they've come to a point where they realize the economy deserves a robust minimum wage. The jobs we're creating are hourly jobs with low wages. We need to do everything we can to raise it."
The $10.10 was figured based on inflation, and since the 60's the minimum wage increases haven't kept up with the U.S. rate of inflation - if it had, according to progressive economists it would already be over $10.
During his State of the Union address, Obama argued that hiking the minimum wage would improve the lives of millions of workers and their families.
"Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong," Obama said. "Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty."
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