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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid