MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE -- (Senate - July 23, 2007)
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, tomorrow we will celebrate the first increase in the minimum wage in 10 years--in 10 years. That will be the first increase in the minimum wage. It will be increased to $5.85 an hour, followed by an additional 70 cents one year later, and an additional 70 cents one year after that.
This will mean new hope and opportunity for 13 million men and women. Primarily women, because almost 60 percent of minimum wage workers are women. It will benefit some 6.4 million children because more than half of the women who will benefit from the increase have children. So it will benefit the children. This means hope is on the way.
It has been a long time, Mr. President. We have heard those who say: Well, the increase in the minimum wage is going to cost jobs, and it will work a hardship on these people. Of course, that is what they have said on every increase there has been. This is the 10th increase in the minimum wage, and they have been wrong each and every time. Currently, the second largest economy in Western Europe is Great Britain--they are paying $10.97 as a minimum wage. They have lifted almost a million children out of poverty. At the present time, Ireland also has one of the strongest economies in Western Europe and their minimum wage is $11.25 an hour, and they have the strongest economy in all of Western Europe. They have reduced child poverty by 40 percent, and their economy is strong. So $5.85 in this great country at this time is just a statement that many of us believe that work should pay, and that people who work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks of the year, should not live in poverty.
So tomorrow will be an important day, Mr. President, and it is appropriate that the Senate be reminded of it.