By George Miller
Every day, millions of Californians work hard to make a living for themselves and often for their families as well. They wash dishes, stock shelves, mop floors, clean hotel rooms, and prepare and serve food. Their jobs can be physically demanding, oftentimes dangerous and demeaning, and always low-paying. But despite working a full-time job, many low-wage workers still live in poverty.
This isn't right.
A full day's hard work should be enough to keep you and your family out of poverty. But this basic American value no longer applies to millions of hard working Americans because the real value of the federal minimum wage has been allowed to fall sharply over the years. Now it's time for the nearly 3.5 million workers in California and 30 million workers nationwide who work in low-wage jobs to get a raise.
I'm pushing Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in three steps from its current rate of $7.25 per hour, and to give tipped-workers, like waitresses, busboys, and bellhops, a raise for the first time in more than 20 years.
My bill, HR 1010, would also make sure the minimum wage keeps up with inflation once it gets to $10.10 to ensure low-income workers stay out of poverty. It's the right thing to do for these workers and it will strengthen the economy for everyone.
The typical worker affected by an increase in the minimum wage is a woman who works full time for a large business with more than 100 employees. She is a mother or a wife 20 years old or older. And she has graduated high school and may have taken some college courses to try to provide more for her family. Workers making at or near the minimum wage have to pay bills, buy school supplies, and put food on the table.
The truth is, we can afford to raise the minimum wage and our economy will benefit as a result.
Today, 40 percent of Americans make less than what the minimum wage was worth in 1968 because the wage has not been sufficiently increased nor adjusted for inflation. Meanwhile, the rich have gotten much richer. The golden age of corporate profits is thriving, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 have reached new nominal highs, and CEOs now take home 380 times more in pay than the typical worker, marking a staggering level of inequality that undermines our nation's economic strength.
Raising the minimum wage will put more money in average Americans' pockets that they will spend in their communities, driving local job creation and supporting small businesses.
I fought for and won a minimum-wage increase in 2007 after more than 10 years of Republican obstruction. It's time to do it again to reward hard work in this country by growing our economy from the bottom up. We can help ensure all Americans have the opportunity to succeed through hard work by raising the federal minimum wage right away. Learn more about my bill at www.georgemiller.house.gov.