EUGENE, Ore. — Just hours before his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama says he’s plans to increase the minimum wage for new federal contract workers. The President’s attempts to increase the nation’s minimum wage through legislation have stalled in Congress and according to his Chief of Staff, he doesn’t want to wait any longer.
And that is why on Tuesday morning, he announced he would use his executive powers to partially address the problem by issuing an executive order to increase the minimum wage for new contract workers to $10.10. That is almost $3 more than the current federal minimum wage. Though it is limited, some believe the impact could have a ripple effect.
University of Oregon Labor Education Professor Gordon Lafer says, “I can’t say what’s in the President’s head, but I guess what part of it is that, ‘I’m going to do what I can unilaterally.’ And part of it is, ‘I hope that by the government setting this standard with part of our contractors, it will have a spillover effect and help other people who don’t even work for federal contractors.”
Lafer says when adjusted for inflation, minimum wage now is well below where it was in 1968, which is $10.56 and that one out of every five Americans working in the private sector now is working for less than that 1968 hourly wage. While there is a lot of support, there’s also just as much backlash. House Speaker John Boehner says he expects the limited move will help quote “somewhere close to zero” people.