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It's Time to Raise the Minimum Wage

by: Emily Cadik

Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 02:00 PM CDT

On Thursday, Connecticut became the first state to raise its minimum wage to $10.10. It's the highest minimum wage of any state, and is almost $3 higher than the minimum wage in Texas.

President Obama called for a $10.10 minimum wage in his State of the Union and has been pushing for it ever since, with the support of many Democrats in Congress. In February the President raised the minimum wage for federally contracted workers by executive order. But he's hoping that this step is the first of many.

In this morning's weekly address from the White House, Vice President Joe Biden continued the charge. "The big difference between giving a raise in the minimum wage instead of a tax break to the very wealthy is the minimum wage worker will go out and spend every penny of it because they're living on the edge," he said. "They'll spend it in the local economy. They need it to pay their electric bill, put gas in their automobile, to buy fundamental necessities. And this generates economic growth in their communities."

A minimum wage increase is long overdue. The real value of the minimum wage has fallen by close to one third since 1968. A full-time minimum wage worker currently makes $14,500 each year, which puts any minimum wage worker with kids below the poverty line.

See what raising the minimum wage would mean for Texas and for women after the jump.

The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25. Texas's minimum wage is also $7.25, though over 20 states have minimum wages that exceed the federal minimum.

Last month, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 nationally would lift close to 1 million people out of poverty. Real income would increase by $5 billion for families currently below the poverty threshold, and their family incomes would increase by an average of 3 percent.

In Texas alone, the impacts would be huge. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 in Texas would benefit 2,983,100 workers - more than in any other state.

The White House also released a report this week showing that raising the minimum wage would especially benefit women. According to the report, 55 percent of the workers whose wages would increase under a higher minimum wage are women. It suggests the minimum wage issue is not just a labor issue, but a pay equality issue as well.

According to the Huffington Post:

" Women disproportionately occupy the ranks of the low-wage workforce. They account for the majority of workers in the 10 largest jobs that pay below $10.10 per hour, including housekeepers, cashiers and childcare workers.

An analysis from the National Women's Law Center found that the gender pay gap is worse in states that have declined to raise their minimum wage higher than the federal level, which remains $7.25 and hasn't been increased since 2009."

Given that pay equality issues that have been front and center in Texas of late, the need to take steps to bring women's wages and salaries on par with men's has become more and more evident.

And given how many Texas workers stand to gain from a minimum wage increase, it's time to join the 20+ states who have moved towards pay fairness.

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Do not republish without express written permission.

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