President Obama will announce a minimum wage increase for some federal workers during his State of the Union address tonight. Workers on new government contracts will receive $10.10 per hour starting by 2015, a boost from the current hourly rate of $7.25.
Obama will use his executive power to make the increase happen. He is leaving it to Congress to pass legislation to raise the across-the-board minimum wage to $10.10. But for now, he is exercising his own power to raise the salaries of federal workers.
“Hardworking Americans — including janitors and construction workers — working on new federal contracts will benefit from the Executive Order (EO),” the White House said in a statement. “Some examples of the hardworking people who would benefit from an EO include military base workers who wash dishes, serve food and do laundry.”
Liberal senators have been pushing Obama towards the measure. Fifteen signed a letter to Obama in the fall, saying that “profitable corporations that receive lucrative contracts from the federal government should pay all of their workers a decent wage.”
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Conservative lawmakers have criticized the measure, claiming it will limit jobs for young people already struggling to find work.
“The last thing we want to do is have even fewer jobs for younger people,” Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News.
For his part, House Speaker John Boehner said that since the change would only affect future contracts, the number of people who would benefit would be “somewhere close to zero.”