Time to Lift the Minimum Wage and Give America a Raise

Washington, DC - In this week’s address, President Obama said this is a year of action, and he will do everything he can to restore opportunity for all.  The President already lifted the wages for federal contract workers, and he calls on the American people to tell Congress to finish the job by boosting the federal minimum wage for all workers to $10.10 and give America a raise.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
February 22, 2014

Hi, everybody. 

Restoring the idea of opportunity for all requires a year of action from all of us.  Wherever I can act on my own, I will – and whenever I can ask more Americans to help, I’ll do that too.

In my State of the Union Address, for example, I asked more business leaders to take action to raise their employees’ wages.  Because even though our economy is growing, and our businesses have created about eight and a half million new jobs over the past four years, average wages have barely budged.

So it’s good news that, earlier this week, one of America’s largest retailers, The Gap, decided to raise wages for its employees beginning this year.  Their decision will benefit about 65,000 workers in the U.S.  That means more families will be able to raise their kids, finish their studies, or keep up on their bills with a little less financial stress and strain. 

Gap’s CEO explained their decision simply – he said, “[It’s] right for our brands, good for our people, and beneficial to our customers.”  And he’s right – raising Americans’ wages isn’t just a good deed; it’s good business and good for our economy.  It helps reduce turnover, it boosts productivity, and it gives folks some more money to spend at local businesses.

And as a chief executive myself, that’s why I took action last week to lift more workers’ wages by requiring federal contractors to pay their employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour.

In the year since I first asked Congress to raise the minimum wage, six states have passed laws to raise theirs, and more states are working on it as we speak.  But only Congress can finish the job and lift Americans’ wages across the country. 

Right now, there’s a bill before Congress that would boost America’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.  That’s easy to remember – “ten-ten.”  That bill would lift wages for more than 16 million Americans without requiring a single dollar in new taxes or spending.  But even though a majority of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans across the country support raising the minimum wage, Republicans in Congress don’t want to give it a vote. 

Hardworking Americans deserve better than “no.”  Let’s tell Congress to say “yes.”  Pass that bill.  Give America a raise.  Because here in America, no one who works hard should have to live in poverty – and everyone who works hard should have a chance to get ahead. 

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

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