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News from EPI A $10.10 minimum wage would give working families and the economy a much-needed boost

An EPI briefing paper released today, Raising the Federal Minimum Wage To $10.10 Would Give Working Families, And The Overall Economy, A Much-Needed Boost, looks at the impacts of raising the minimum wage as proposed in the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013.

EPI Economic Analyst David Cooper and Director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network Doug Hall find that increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by July 1, 2015, would raise the wages of about 30 million workers, increase GDP by roughly $32.6 billion and create approximately 140,000 new jobs.

“As productivity has increased and the economy has grown, America’s lowest-paid workers have been left behind. If the minimum wage had kept pace with average production worker wages, it would be about $10.50 today,” said Cooper. “While President Obama’s call for a $9-an-hour minimum wage is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough.”

A wide range of workers would benefit from a minimum wage increase. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of minimum-wage workers are not teenagers working part-time jobs. Roughly 88 percent of minimum-wage workers are over 20 years old, about 55 percent work full time and a quarter are parents.

“Right now, full-time minimum-wage workers do not earn enough to stay above the poverty level,” said Hall. “A $10.10 minimum wage would help those hit hardest by the Great Recession lift themselves out of poverty and provide a modest economic stimulus at the same time.”

In addition to boosting the earnings of working families, a minimum wage increase would have a positive impact on the economy. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 by July 1, 2015, would give workers an additional $51.5 billion over the phase-in period, who would in turn spend that money in their local economies. In a struggling economy, in which wage increases for the most vulnerable workers are scarce and businesses need more customers before they can pick up hiring, lawmakers should take this opportunity to raise the minimum wage.