News / USA

Obama Raises Minimum Wage for Federal Workers

President Barack Obama works at his desk in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Jan. 27, 2014, ahead of Tuesday night's State of the Union speech.President Barack Obama works at his desk in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Jan. 27, 2014, ahead of Tuesday night's State of the Union speech.
x
President Barack Obama works at his desk in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Jan. 27, 2014, ahead of Tuesday night's State of the Union speech.
President Barack Obama works at his desk in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Jan. 27, 2014, ahead of Tuesday night's State of the Union speech.
VOA News
President Barack Obama's plan to raise the minimum wage for federal government contract workers sets the stage for a renewed Washington political fight over whether to increase paychecks for low-income workers across the country.

The White House announced Tuesday that Obama would sign an executive order increasing the pay floor for new government contractors from $7.25 an hour to $10.10.

In 2012, the government said 16,000 federal workers were paid at or below the minimum wage, so his order would affect relatively few workers in the coming months as the government signs new contracts with private employers.

But the broader debate between Obama, a Democrat in his sixth year as president, and his Republican opponents in Congress, is whether to increase the national minimum wage. That would affect about 3.6 million workers the U.S. says were paid at or below the minimum wage when it calculated the figure two years ago.

The White House said the $10.10 an hour wage for new federal contract workers would boost the pay of low-income construction workers and military base personnel washing dishes and doing laundry. With an annual wage of about $21,000, it would push a family of three above the country's poverty line.

The White House announced the plan ahead of Obama's Tuesday night State of the Union address to Congress. It said raising the minimum wage nationally would reduce poverty "without jeopardizing employment" and improve the morale of low-income workers. It is part of Obama's call to reduce income inequality in the U.S., to narrow the gap between the wealthiest and poorest Americans.

Some U.S. corporate executives agree with Obama that the minimum wage should be increased. But Congress rebuffed him after he called for a pay boost in his 2013 State of the Union speech.

Opponents say that increasing the minimum wage hurts businesses and curbs job creation. 

The leader of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner, said employers often lay off low-wage workers when faced with paying higher minimum wages.
 
"We know from increases in the minimum wage in the past that hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans have lost their jobs," Boehner said. "And so the very people the president purports to help are the ones who are going to get hurt by this."

In the U.S., 20 of the 50 states already have mandated minimum wages that are higher than the current $7.25 national requirement, but all are below the $10.10 figure Obama is proposing. A recent CNN survey showed 73 percent of those polled favor increasing the minimum wage across the country.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid