Poverty is increasing in the United States, and much of that increase is among people who work. Today, about one-third of workers in the United States are unable to afford basic like sufficient food. More than 46 million people, including 22 million children, live in poverty.
Toward the end of the Great Depression Congress took action to fight poverty and stimulate the nation’s economic growth by, among other things, enacting minimum wage requirements in 1938. But, for decades, the minimum wage has failed to keep up with inflation. And most minimum wage workers are adults trying to support themselves and their families.
At today’s federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, an employee working a 40 hour week, 52 weeks a year, earns just $15,080, obviously not enough to support anyone who has to pay for housing, food, utilities, transportation and other necessities. In fact, $15,080 is below the official poverty line for a family of two people, which is currently benchmarked at $15,130.
We have to ask, does it make sense, and does it serve America, to set a minimum wage that leaves working families living below the poverty line?
Supporting workers seeking fair wages and working conditions can increase economic opportunity for those workers. That’s why we have supported hotel workers seeking wage increases, and fighting to retain their health insurance and improve safety on the job. Helping to pass a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in New York and California are other examples of increasing economic justice. So is the Caring Across Generations campaign.
While we are proud to support these efforts to increase economic opportunity, we also believe there are systemic solutions to these problems. That’s why we are building a movement to engage more Americans in addressing the most pressing problems we face as a nation, including economic inequality that has risen to historic proportions. Join us.