From Senator Jeff Merkley
Higher Wage Estimated to Increase GDP by Nearly $33 Billion and Generate 140,000 New Jobs Over Three Years
Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley today announced he is co-sponsoring the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, to raise the federal minimum wage. The proposal would restore the value of the minimum wage which is currently more than 25 percent lower than it was 45 years ago. This bill would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from its current $7.25—in three steps of 95 cents—then provide for automatic annual increases linked to changes in the cost of living. The bill would also gradually raise the minimum wage for tipped workers, which currently stands at just $2.13 an hour, for the first time in more than 20 years, to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.
“There is no better program of any kind than a good, living-wage job as a foundation for a successful family,” Merkley said. “Unfortunately, while the stock market is hitting record highs, wages for working people have been stagnant. With this change those working tough jobs and trying not to fall behind will have some extra money in their pocket. That means they’ll have a little more to spend in local businesses. Raising the minimum wage is good for workers, good for our communities, and good for the economy. Let’s get it done.”
The unveiling of the bill, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, comes three weeks after President Obama highlighted increasing the minimum wage in his State of the Union address.
Oregon’s minimum wage, which currently sits at $8.95, is already indexed to changes in cost-of-living. In addition, Oregon’s minimum wage for tipped workers is the same as it is for other workers. Oregon had roughly 130,000 earners making minimum wage at the beginning of 2012.
Fast Facts on the Minimum Wage
· The minimum wage has lost more than 30 percent of its buying power since its peak in 1968. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation since 1968, it would be worth approximately $10.56 per hour today.
· More than 30 million American workers would get a raise under the bill. More than half—17 million—of them would be women. Eighty-eight percent of them would be adult workers. Eighteen million children (23% of American children) have parents who would get a raise.
· The minimum wage today pays only $15,000 per year, which is $3,000 below the poverty level for a family of three. The Fair Minimum Wage Act would boost the minimum wage to $21,000, lifting families above the poverty line.
· Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would increase GDP by nearly $33 billion over the course of three years as workers spend their raises in their local businesses and communities. This economic activity would generate 140,000 new jobs over the course of three years.