In his Feb. 12 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama suggested raising the national minimum wage to $9 an hour.
“Today, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year,” the President said. “Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong.”
“That’s why, since the last time this Congress raised the minimum wage, 19 states have chosen to bump theirs even higher. Tonight, let’s declare that, in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty—and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.”
He added that this single step “would raise the incomes of millions of working families.”
“It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank, rent or eviction, scraping by or finally getting ahead,” he said. “For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets. And a whole lot of folks out there would probably need less help from government. In fact, working folks shouldn’t have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up, while CEO pay has never been higher.”
He noted that his opponent in last year’s election, Mitt Romney, had endorsed a proposal to tie the minimum wage to the cost of living.
The President’s call was not welcomed by some industry groups. The National Small Business Association said such a hike could be “problematic for segments of a struggling small-business community.”
And the National Retail Federation warned on its blog that a hike would “drive up costs” and “create headwinds for job creation.”
Currently, the federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 an hour, although it is higher in individual states. A list of the minimum wage by state can be seen here.