WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement on tomorrow's increase in the federal minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $5.85 per hour, the first of three steps to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 over the next two years:
"Tomorrow - when the first phase of the federal minimum wage increase takes effect -millions of minimum-wage earners who work hard and play by the rules will have a better shot at achieving the American Dream.
"In the ten years that have passed since we last increased the minimum wage, inflation has eroded it to its lowest level in more than 50 years. This means that 5.3 million American workers, as well as the 6.3 million dependents they support, have experienced not just a pay freeze, but a pay cut - in real dollar terms - since 1996.
"In this land of freedom and opportunity, no person who puts in an honest day's work should be relegated to poverty. At the current rate of $5.15 an hour, a full-time minimum wage worker has been bringing home $10,712 a year - which is almost $6,000 below the poverty level for a family of three.
"According to data released by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities in January of 2007, raising the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour by 2009 'would ensure that a family of four with a parent working full time at the minimum wage does not have to raise its children in poverty.'
"Economic fairness, social justice and increased opportunity are key elements of the new direction Democrats are pursuing. And that is why we will continue fighting for measures that ensure all American workers can move forward in our economy."