Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) On Raising The Federal Minimum Wage

Vermont is among only 22 States in the Nation with a minimum wage higher than that of the federal minimum wage.  The Green Mountain State has long recognized the importance of paying workers a fair and livable wage, and it is past time for Congress to catch up with the daily struggles of working American families.  

That is why I today I am proud to join as a cosponsor of Senator Murray’s Raise the Wage Act, to increase the federal minimum wage to $12 by 2020.  The Raise the Wage Act will help more 38 million Americans and thousands of Vermonters who yearn for financial security, for the sound footing to build their lives, and the lives of their children.

The federal minimum wage has not kept up with inflation.  In fact it has lost more than 30 percent of its value since 1968.  Over that same time, productivity has doubled, and low-wage workers today bring more experience and education to the workforce.  American workers are being asked to work more for less.  It is past time to adjust this disparity.

In Vermont, 64,000 workers would see their wages improve if we raised the minimum wage to $12.  That is roughly $141 million in added income for families in Vermont -- families that could spend these earnings at the store down the street, multiplying the economic impact to resonate through our local economies and downtown businesses.

Today nearly two-thirds of Americans who earn the minimum wage or less are women; the Raise the Wage Act will improve the hard-earned wages of more than 21 million American women.

No one who works hard in a full-time job should live in poverty in our land, and raising the minimum wage should not be a question; it is commonsense, it is fair, and it is right.  It is the right step to take to help ensure that workers can earn wages that support their families. 

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