Larsen: We Need to Raise the Minimum Wage to Increase Economic Opportunity

Jan 7, 2014 Issues: Jobs Labor and the Economy

WASHINGTON—Workers in low-wage jobs would receive at least $10.10 an hour if Congress passes a measure that Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, cosponsored today. The Fair Minimum Wage Act (H.R. 1010) would increase the federal minimum wage over three years and adjust the wage to keep pace with inflation.

“Raising the minimum wage puts money in the pockets of Americans who are working hard to provide for their families and escape poverty,” Larsen said. “It is unacceptable that millions of people are working fulltime at the minimum wage but still fall under the poverty line.

“While the economy is recovering from the recession, not all are sharing in the benefits of economic growth. The vast majority of income increases in the last few years have gone to the top earners, while low- and middle-class workers’ wages have stagnated.

“A higher minimum wage will help combat rising income inequality, but Congress need to do more to create good paying jobs and advance economic opportunity. We have to renew emergency unemployment insurance benefits, so those who are looking for work do not fall into poverty. We need to invest in education, so the next generation of workers can get the best jobs and grow the economy for all. And we need to refocus on creating good-paying middle class jobs by investing in transportation infrastructure, fueling small business growth and finding new markets to sell American-made products.”

The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour, while Washington state has a minimum wage of $9.32. Independent economists agree that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would help 4.6 million people leave poverty.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act will also increase the federal minimum wage for tipped workers, currently frozen at $2.13 per hour, to 70 percent of the full minimum wage. Washington state already requires the same minimum wage for tipped and non-tipped employees.