$9 an hour is not enough: Opposing view
Every morning, millions of Americans drop their children off at day care, grab a cup of coffee from the corner shop, and drop their car keys off with a parking garage attendant before arriving at an office that has been cleaned overnight by a janitor.
In the morning rush, few of us probably stop to think about the workers who are making our routine possible — and we are certainly not thinking about how much they earn.
OUR VIEW: Index wage increase to inflation
Many minimum-wage workers — who serve in important and often difficult jobs, but earn just $7.25 an hour — do not earn enough to pay the bills, much less achieve the American Dream. Since its peak in 1968, the minimum wage has lost 31% of its purchasing power, while the prices of basic necessities such as food and rent have continued to climb.
This means that American workers are falling behind. If we are truly going to rebuild the middle class, we must start by helping these workers.
While I was heartened to hear President Obama make the minimum wage a centerpiece of his State of the Union Address, I believe that his proposal of $9 per hour does not go far enough to ensure that working families can make ends meet.
Soon, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and I will introduce legislation that would gradually increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, and raise the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in more than 20 years. Our proposal, like President Obama's, would also provide for automatic increases linked to changes in the cost of living.
Raising the minimum wage is one of the simplest and most effective ways to help working families succeed. It also helps our economy by putting additional money in the hands of consumers who will spend it right away in their local communities.
Contrary to publicized myths, research proves that increasing the minimum wage will not cost us jobs; in fact, our proposal would create at least 100,000 jobs through increased consumer spending.
Our nation is on the road to recovery — a recovery that can and must include a raise in the minimum wage.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.