Durbin Urges Congress to Raise Federal Minimum Wage to $10.10 an Hour

[COLLINSVILLE] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage by passing the Minimum Wage Fairness Act.  The legislation raises the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour, raises the minimum wage for tipped employees to nearly 70 percent of that rate, and indexes yearly wage minimums to inflation.  The wage increases provided for in the bill would be phased in gradually over a two year period.


“People want to do what it takes to support themselves and their loved ones, but more and more working families are finding their current jobs won't allow for that,” Durbin said.  “In Illinois, 100,000 workers work full-time and yet still live in poverty because their wages are so low.  More than half of low-wage workers are women and 88 percent are adults working to support themselves and their families.  President Obama has taken action to ensure federal contractors receive a fair minimum wage.  Now it's time for Congress to follow his lead and extend those same benefits to all workers.”


An employee working 40 hours per week for the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour will earn just $15,080 each year.  While Illinois' minimum wage at $8.25 is slightly higher, an individual who earns it while working full-time will still only earn $17,000 in a year, $1,000 below the poverty line.  Though the federal minimum wage has been raised many times, increases have not kept up with inflation, as the real buying power of the minimum wage has fallen more than 30 percent since 1968.


According to a report by the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 will directly or indirectly raise the wages of 27.8 million workers.  These workers often rely on additional government assistance to support themselves and their families – last year, a study by the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Illinois found that the families of fast food workers alone cost taxpayers $7 billion each year.  In contrast, the increased spending power that would result from passing the Minimum Wage Fairness Act is expected to increase Gross Domestic Product by nearly $22 billion and create 85,000 jobs.


“Businesses that don't pay their workers enough to survive are really asking the government to step in and make up the difference,” Durbin said.  “Raising the minimum wage will lift millions out of poverty and lessen the burden on federal programs like food stamps while boosting our nation's economy by giving working families more spending power.  It is well past time to realize those benefits and raise the minimum wage.”