Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House February 15, 2014
Hi, everybody. In this year of action, I said I’d do everything in my power to expand opportunity for more Americans. And this week, I took action to lift more workers’ wages by requiring federal contractors to pay their employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour. These are workers who serve our troops’ meals, wash their dishes, care for our veterans – Americans who work hard and will get a raise as these contracts come up. This will be good for contractors, for taxpayers, and for America’s bottom line.
We know why this is important. Our economy has been growing for four years. Our businesses have created eight and a half million new jobs. But while those at the top are doing better than ever, average wages have barely budged. Too many Americans are working harder than ever just to get by, let alone get ahead. And that’s been true since long before the recession hit.
That’s why we’ve got to build an economy that works for everybody, not just a fortunate few. We’ve got to restore opportunity for all – the notion that no matter who you are or how you started out, with hard work and responsibility, you can get ahead in America.
The opportunity agenda I’ve laid out is built on more new jobs that pay good wages; better training for folks to fill those jobs; a smarter education for our kids; and making sure honest work is rewarded. And the action I took this week will reward hard work for more Americans.
But to finish the job, Congress needs to act. In the year since I first asked Congress to raise the minimum wage, six states have passed laws to raise theirs. More states, cities, counties, and companies are taking steps to join them. An overwhelming majority of Americans support raising a minimum wage that’s worth about 20% less than when Ronald Reagan took office.
Right now, there’s a bill in Congress that would boost America’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. That’s easy to remember: ten-ten. And remember, the average worker who would get a raise if Congress acts is about 35 years old. Most lower-wage jobs are held by women. And raising the minimum wage wouldn’t just raise their wages – its effect would lift wages for about 28 million Americans. It would lift millions of Americans out of poverty, and help millions more work their way out of poverty – without requiring a single dollar in new taxes or spending. It will give more businesses more customers with more money to spend – and that means growing the economy for everyone.
You deserve to know where the people who represent you stand on this. If they don’t support raising the federal minimum wage to ten-ten an hour, ask them “why not?” The opponents of raising folks’ wages have deployed the same old arguments for years, and time and again, they’ve been proven wrong. Let’s prove them wrong again, and give America a raise. Let’s make opportunity easier to come by for every American who’s willing to work for it.
Thanks, and have a great weekend.