President Obama delivered his weekly address this morning, following up on the themes of last week’s: namely, pressuring Congress to raise the minimum wage. This week, however, the president insisted that the minimum wage was a women’s rights issue, because “women hold most lower-wage jobs in America.”
The president began his statements by repeating one of the more prominent talking points of the Obama administration since this year’s State of the Union address: “A woman deserves to earn equal pay for equal work.” The president insisted that it was necessary for Congress to “act on these priorities” for women, but only provided one specific on which he wanted Congress to act: raising the minimum wage.
“And when women hold most lower-wage jobs in America, Congress needs to raise the minimum wage,” the president argued, “because no woman who works full-time should ever have to raise her children in poverty.” Raising the minimum wage, the president argued, was not just in the best interests of those making minimum wage but in the best interests of American women because their gender necessarily relegates them to minimum wage jobs. The president also implied that enough women making minimum wage have children that a raise of the minimum wage would effectively help line the pockets of mothers everywhere.
The president lauded states that had raised the minimum wage since the White House launched its campaign to encourage state laws to change in that direction but argued that the momentum in those states was not enough. “Congress needs to join the rest of the country and pass a bill that would lift the federal minimum wage to ten dollars and ten cents an hour,” President Obama insisted.
Studies on raising the minimum wage have shown that such a plan would not necessarily help Americans in poverty. In fact, one such study from Express Employment Professionals found that 38% of employers paying minimum wage would have to fire workers to comply with a higher minimum wage, while 54% would reduce the number of workers hired. According to Forbes, the last time Congress raised the minimum wage, more than 600,000 jobs disappeared. And while President Obama implied in his address that women would be among those benefitting the most from such a move, a reduction in the number of minimum wage jobs would hurt teenagers working summers and some working multiple jobs part-time the most.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tabled the issue of raising the minimum wage last February.