Merkley and Wyden Call for National Minimum Wage Increase and for Congress to Tackle Income Inequality
January 24, 2014
Call for increase in minimum wage to $10.10 per hour
Portland, OR – Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden visited Green Zebra Grocery in North Portland today to talk about the growing income inequality in America and to call on Congress to pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 and then provide automatic annual increases linked to changes in the cost of living. Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25. During the Senators visit to Green Zebra Grocery, founder Lisa Sedlar announced that she would increase her employees’ hourly wage to $10.10 to show support for the Fair Minimum Wage Act.
“I live in the same working class neighborhood that I grew up in and families are struggling to stay afloat on jobs that pay minimum wage,” said Merkley. “America only prospers when the middle class prospers, and we can start tackling the destructive income inequality eating away at our economy by raising the federal minimum wage. It was great to visit Green Zebra Grocery today who has an owner that clearly understands what working families are facing.”
“If increasing the minimum wage pulls one person or one family out of poverty, then we are all better for it,” Wyden said. “If increasing the minimum wage means that someone can live a more dignified life, then let’s get to it.”
Oregon’s minimum wage, which currently sits at $9.10, is already indexed to changes in cost of living. Oregon had roughly 130,000 earners making minimum wage at the beginning of 2012.
“Green Zebra Grocery is honored to have both of Oregon's Senators here today to talk about increasing the Federal minimum wage and income inequality in America,” said Lisa Sedlar, Founder and CEO of Green Zebra Grocery. “Raising the national minimum wage is one very important way to help millions of workers and families to have better access to food, housing and healthcare. As an entrepreneur in the food service industry, I am here to tell you that the service industry can and should support raising the National Minimum Wage and to show my support Green Zebra Grocery has raised our minimum wage to $10.10 effective today.”
Fast Facts on the Minimum Wage
- The minimum wage has lost more than 30 percent of its buying power since its peak in 1968. If the federal minimum wage had kept up with inflation since 1968, it would be worth approximately $10.56 per hour today.
- More than 30 million American workers would get a raise under the bill. More than half—17 million—of them would be women. The vast majority (88 percent) would be adult workers. Eighteen million children (23 percent of American children) have parents who would get a raise.
- The federal minimum wage today pays only $15,000 per year, which is $3,000 below the poverty level for a family of three. The Fair Minimum Wage Act would boost the minimum wage to $21,000, lifting families above the poverty line.
- Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would reduce the number of people living in poverty by 4.6 million.