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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Support Working Families Co-Sponsor S. 460, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013

Advocacy Letter - 03/08/13

Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: U.S. Senate


Dear Senator:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, we write to encourage you to cosponsor S. 460, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, introduced by Senator Tom Harkin, D. Iowa. The bill is a common sense reform that is a key part of the nation’s economic recovery and is needed more than ever to address the shift toward low-wage jobs for working families that the recession has accelerated.

The Leadership Conference believes that the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 takes necessary steps to help working families make ends meet, sustain consumer spending, and spur economic recovery. The bill would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2015, in three increments of 95 cents each. Further, the bill would adjust the minimum wage each year to keep pace with the rising cost of living. Finally, the bill would also raise the minimum wage for tipped workers, which has been stagnant at a meager $2.13 per hour for more than 20 years. These changes will make a significant difference in the lives of millions of low-wage workers and their families and help grow our economy.

A raise in the minimum wage is desperately needed because pay for America’s workers remains stagnant, while the cost of living continues to rise. In 2007, Congress raised the federal minimum wage by $2.10 per hour to $7.25 as a first step toward achieving its purpose as an anti-poverty measure. Had the federal minimum wage kept pace with the cost of living over the past forty years, it would be more than $10.55 per hour today.[i] Instead, the current hourly rate of $7.25 translates to an annual income of just $15,080 per year for full-time work, which is below the poverty line for a family of three.

Despite fears about the adverse effect of increasing the minimum wage on businesses, studies demonstrate that when the minimum wage has been increased, there has been no significant reduction in employment or slowing of job growth, even when the economy was struggling.[ii] Instead, higher wages help to foster economic recovery and job growth. The Fair Minimum Wage Act would generate more than $32 billion in new economic activity, translating to 140,000 new full-time jobs.[iii]

Women and people of color are disproportionately represented among the 30 million Americans who will benefit from a higher minimum wage.[iv]  According to the Economic Policy Institute,

  • Women comprise 49 percent of U.S. workers, yet 56 percent of workers who would be affected by a potential minimum-wage increase.
  • African Americans make up only 11 percent of the workforce, but are 14 percent of those that would benefit from a higher minimum wage.
  • Hispanics represent only 15 percent of the workforce, yet comprise 25 percent of those that would benefit from a higher minimum wage.[v]

Setting the minimum wage at an appropriate level can promote economic growth while strengthening the ability of low- and middle-wage workers to have quality jobs.

We urge you to cosponsor the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which will help provide America’s lowest paid workers with an urgently needed raise while boosting the consumer spending that fuels the economy. To co-sponsor, please contact Liz Weiss in Sen. Harkin’s office at liz_weiss@help.senate.gov  or (202) 224-5441.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Lexer Quamie, Senior Counsel at The Leadership Conference at quamie@civilrights.org or (202) 466-3648. Thank you for your consideration of our views.

Sincerely,

Wade Henderson
President & CEO

Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President



[ii] Schmitt, John “Why Does the Minimum Wage Have no Discernible Effect on Employment,” Center for Economic and Policy Research, Feb. 2013. http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/min-wage-2013-02.pdf

[iii] The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013: Restoring the Lost Value of the Minimum Wage Would Boost the Economy and the Incomes of 30 Million Workers in the U.S. , National Employment Law Project, http://www.nelp.org/page/-/rtmw/NELP-FMWA-2013-Fact-Sheet-030413.pdf?nocdn=1

[iv] Mishel, Lawrence, Declining value of the federal minimum wage is a major factor Driving Inequality, Feb. 21, 2013. http://www.epi.org/publication/declining-federal-minimum-wage-inequality/

[v] Hall, Doug and David Cooper, A $10.10 Minimum Wage Would Give Economy (and More Low-Wage Workers) a Bigger Boost, March 5, 2013. http://www.epi.org/blog/10-10-minimum-wage-give-economy-wage-workers/

 

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