By Derrick DePledge
President Barack Obama mentioned Hawaii on Wednesday during his remarks at the White House on raising the federal minimum wage. The state Legislature on Tuesday gave final approval to a bill that would gradually increase the state's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by January 2018.
The Hawaii-born president has called for a federal minimum wage of $10.10 an hour.
We know these Americans. We depend on them. The workers who’d benefit from a minimum wage increase often work full-time, often in physically demanding jobs. They average 35 years of age. Most low-paying jobs are held by women. But because Republicans in Congress said “no” to even allowing a vote on the floor of the Senate, these folks are going to have to wait for the raise they deserve.
Now the good news is outside of Washington folks aren’t waiting. While Republicans have been deciding whether to even allow a minimum wage bill to even come up for a vote, you’ve seen 10 states and the District of Columbia go ahead and raise theirs. (Applause.) Yesterday, the Hawaii legislature voted to raise their minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Maryland did the same thing earlier this month -– and I know we’ve got some Maryland state legislators here today. Thanks for the good work. (Applause.)
So the actions that have been taken in just four states -- Maryland, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Hawaii -– means that over a million workers will see a raise. What’s more, we’ve seen big companies like The Gap, and small businesses -- from a pizza joint in St. Louis to an ice cream parlor in Florida -- increasingly choosing to raise wages for their employees because they know it’s good business. They know that it means employees are more likely to stay on the job, less turnover. It means that they’re going to be more productive, and customers see the difference. That’s one of the reasons I issued an executive order requiring employees on new federal contracts to be paid a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour. (Applause.)
So Americans have been way out in front of Congress on this issue. In fact, about three in four Americans support raising the minimum wage. And that’s because we believe that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, nobody who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty. That’s a basic principle. (Applause.) And at a time when those at the top are doing better than ever, while millions of Americans are working harder and harder just to get by, that three out of four Americans understands that America deserves a raise.