Governor O'Malley -- along with Governors Inslee (Wash.), Malloy (Conn.), and Quinn (Ill.) -- met with Vice President Biden, and other officials at the White House today to discuss efforts to expand opportunity and strengthen the middle class by raising the minimum wage.
Governor O'Malley has made raising the wage a top priority for the 2014 state legislative session. In the proposal, Maryland's minimum wage of $7.25 would increase incrementally to $10.10 in July 2016. The proposal secures the value of the minimum wage by tying future increases to inflation.
"Over the last seven years, we've made the better choice to strengthen and grow our middle class by investing in Maryland's #1 public schools, 21st century innovation, and modern infrastructure. Today, we continue our fight to expand opportunity increasing our State's minimum wage," said Governor O'Malley. "Nobody who works hard and plays by the rules should have to live in poverty. Raising the minimum wage would lift the incomes of 455,000 Maryland workers across our State, and millions more at the national level. That's why it's critical that we give hardworking families the raise they deserve."
Vice President Biden, joined by Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling, and a number of high-ranking Cabinet and White House officials, praised the Governor's efforts to increase Maryland's minimum wage saying, "Governor O'Malley is doing extraordinary work in Maryland to lift their minimum wage and give more hardworking Americans a raise."
Mary Kay Henry of SEIU, Olivia Morgan from the Shriver Report, along with representatives from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Center for American Progress joined the conversation which touched on two policy studies out of the University of Massachusetts and Princeton University. Both studies found that an increase to the minimum wage would have no adverse effect on employment rates when examining similar increases in local jurisdictions.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, raising Maryland's minimum wage would benefit 455,000 workers in Maryland, stimulate $456 million in new economic activity during the phase-in period, and generate or support 1,600 new jobs for the State.
Currently there are 21 states, including the District of Columbia, with minimum wage rates higher than the federal rate of $7.25 per hour. New Jersey's minimum wage is $8.25 and New York's is $8.00; the Pew Center for the States ranked both states in the top 3 for economic mobility, along with Maryland.
President Obama recently issued an executive order increasing the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10. According to a recent study by the University of Massachusetts, raising the federal wage would driven down the national poverty rate by 1.7 percent, or 4.6 million Americans. Raising the wage by 2015 would increase GDP by about $32 billion and create 140,000 new jobs for the American economy.