WASHINGTON - July 8 - Today Marian Wright Edelman joined Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Congressman George Miller (D-CA) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in releasing a new report, Increasing the Minimum Wage: An Issue of Children's Well-Being, compiled by the Children's Defense Fund. The report shows that 7.2 million children would directly benefit if the minimum wage were raised to $7.00 per hour. Senator Kennedy and Congressman Miller have introduced legislation to raise the minimum wage to that level.
Working full time every week at the current minimum wage of $5.15 per hour, a parent supporting two children struggles far below the poverty line of $14,824 per year. The pernicious sting of poverty puts these children at greater risk of poor health due to lack of affordable health care, increases their likelihood of falling behind in school and leaves families unable to pay for adequate housing, nutritious food or quality child care. The report shows that increasing the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.00 per hour for full-time, year-round workers would add $3,800 to their annual income enough for a low-income family of three to afford almost five months of housing, almost nine months of child care or transportation, or pay for more than two years of health care for their children.
"Too many Americans are working full-time and still cannot provide the basics for their families. For seven years Congress has allowed the wages of America's workers to stagnate while increasing their own salaries by more than $20,000," said Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of CDF. "As a result, millions of low-income, hard-working families have seen their efforts to escape poverty become ever more hopeless. It is long past time for Congress and President Bush to raise the minimum wage and ensure that growth in America's economy improves the lives of all our families, not just the privileged."
An increase in the minimum wage would also overwhelmingly assist women and minorities. According to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, 61 percent of workers directly affected by an increase would be women, although they make up only 48 percent of the total workforce. Moreover, 15 percent of African Americans and 19 percent of Latinos in the workforce would be directly affected by a minimum wage increase, although they make up only 11 percent and 13 percent of the total workforce, respectively.
"Unless Congress takes action now and increases the minimum wage, the wages of low-income workers will continue to be eroded by inflation," said Edelman. "The 7.2 million children living in families earning diminishing wages for the past seven years merit this increase."
Increasing the Minimum Wage: An Issue of Children's Well-Being