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Pay Raise For America's Working Families

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"There are a dozen good reasons to raise the minimum wage, and not a single good argument against it. This is the right thing to do for working families, the right thing to do for our economy."

President Bill Clinton
Wednesday, March 8, 2000

Today, at the White House, President Clinton released a report by the National Economic Council which shows that raising the minimum wage is good for American workers and the American economy. The President called on Congress to pass clean, straightforward legislation to raise the minimum wage by $1 -- from $5.15 to $6.15 -- in two equal steps. The President emphasized his opposition to legislation that would delay this overdue pay raise, resulting in a significant loss of wages for full-time minimum wage workers, or include risky tax cuts that would jeopardize our ability to strengthen Social Security and Medicare and pay down the debt by 2013.

NEW REPORT SHOWS RAISING MINIMUM WAGE IS GOOD FOR AMERICA. The National Economic Council report released today, The Minimum Wage: Increasing The Reward For Work, highlights the benefits of raising the minimum wage:

  • The President's proposal to raise the minimum wage by $1 to $6.15 per hour would potentially benefit more than 10 million American workers - most of whom are adults;

  • Raising the minimum wage would increase the annual earnings of a full-time worker by about $2,000 a year, equaling enough money to pay for nearly 7 months of groceries or 5 months of rent.

  • Delaying the minimum wage increase by spreading it out over 3 years - as the Republican leadership in Congress is proposing - would cost a full-time minimum wage worker more than $900 over two years;

  • The President's modest increase would simply restore the real value of the minimum wage to what it was in 1982;

  • The impact from the last minimum wage increase is clear: 10 million workers got a raise, and there is no evidence that jobs were lost;

  • Economic studies find no negative effect of the minimum wage on employment. Recent research has even suggested that higher wages can increase employment, because they improve employers' ability to attract, retain, and motivate workers;

  • The minimum wage plays an important role in ensuring that all workers share in a growing economy; and

  • Recent increases in the minimum wage have helped reduce the welfare caseload by increasing the incentive to work.

CHALLENGING CONGRESS TO DO THE RIGHT THING. Current minimum wage legislation crafted by the Republican leadership would spread the raise out over 3 years instead of 2, costing a full-time minimum wage worker over $900 in two years. The Republican legislation also contains repeals on worker protections and irresponsible tax cuts that would threaten our ability to save Social Security and Medicare and pay down the debt by 2013. Vowing to veto such legislation, President Clinton urged Congress to send him a clean, straightforward bill that rewards America's hard-working people with the raise they need and deserve.

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