Iowa Senator Tom Harkin’s bill that would raise the federal minimum wage is scheduled for a procedural vote today in the U.S. Senate. Harkin is a Democrat and he chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He says his bill would gradually raise the wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 over a period of 30 months.
Harkin says, “Americans understand fairness and they know that it’s unfair for minimum-wage workers to put in a full day’s work, a full month’s work, a full year’s work, and still live in poverty.” In addition to raising the wage nearly $3 an hour, Harkin’s measure also calls for automatic annual increases in the wage to offset inflation.
Harkin says if the wage hike is approved, it will give consumers another $35-billion to spend at local businesses, helping boost jobs and production. “Americans also understand that our economy is still struggling and they know that Main Street businesses need customers with money in their pockets to help them thrive and that raising the minimum wage will give workers more money to spend,” Harkin says. “And the American people are right.”
Opponents say the wage hike will hurt businesses, but a report from the Economic Policy Institute says the raise would increase the Gross Domestic Product by $22-billion and create 85,000 full-time jobs over three years.