On the four-year anniversary of the last minimum wage increase, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Rep. George Miller (D-CA), senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, today pointed to new polling data showing broad, bipartisan support for legislation they have introduced to raise the minimum wage.
The poll, conducted by Hart Research, showed that 80 percent of Americans support a Harkin-Miller proposal to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 in three steps. The legislation would then provide for automatic annual increases linked to changes in the cost of living. Harkin and Miller's bill, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, 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.
"Four years without a raise is three years too many. While millions of workers have been without a raise, costs have continued to climb. Between 2009 and 2012, rent has gone up 4 percent, food is 8 percent more expensive, child care costs 9 percent more, and public transportation takes a 13 percent bigger bite out of workers' wallets. We have to make sure that working families can keep up with the economy. Also, by increasing the minimum wage, we can give tens of millions of workers more money in their paychecks to spend at local businesses, increasing sales and boosting economic activity," Harkin said.
"A new poll released today also shows broad, bipartisan support for my proposal with Congressman Miller to raise the minimum wage to $10.10," Harkin added. "Eighty percent of Americans--a strong majority of Democrats, independents, and Republicans alike--support our bill. Raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do and the responsible thing to do."
"The time has come for American workers to get a raise," Miller said. "The American people understand that a decent minimum wage is not a handout. It's about valuing work. It's about growing the economy from the bottom up by increasing working families' purchasing power."
In addition to the top-line finding that 80 percent of Americans support the Harkin-Miller minimum wage proposal, other key findings of the poll include:
*92 percent of Democrats, 80 percent of independents, and 62 percent of Republicans support the Harkin-Miller proposal.
*Nearly three-quarters of Americans (74%) also say that raising the minimum wage should be an important priority for Congress to address over the next year, including 38% who say it is very important.
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 more than $10.70 per hour today.
*Nearly 30 million American workers will get a raise under Sen. Harkin and Rep. Miller's bill. More than half--17 million--of them are women. The vast majority (88 percent) are adult workers. Eighteen million children (23 percent of American children) have parents who will get a raise.
*In Iowa, 340,000 workers would get a raise, benefiting the parents of 160,000 children. A third of workers with annual family income less than $50,000 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 will boost the minimum wage to $21,000, lifting families above the poverty line.
*Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour will 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 will generate 140,000 new jobs over the course of three years.