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"Let’s declare," President Obama said in his State of the Union address, "that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour." And let's be clear, that wasn't a rhetorical flourish:

Graph showing the relationship of the minimum wage to the poverty line for families of two and three since 1964. Currently in 2013, full-time minimum wage work is below the poverty level for a family of two. Raising it to $9 would be projected to bringing it not quite to the poverty level for a family of three in 2015.
A minimum wage of $9.00 an hour still represents minimum-wage workers falling behind by many measures. Depending how you calculate it, if the minimum wage had kept pace with average wages, it might have been close to $10.50 today. If it had kept pace with productivity, it might have been more than $18.50. And if it had kept pace with the growth of wages to the top one percent? Forget about it—when union members in skilled professions make that much these days, they get attacked as greedy.

Contrary to what Republican opponents of raising the minimum wage—or having one at all, for that matter—will tell you, it won't cost jobs; multiple studies show that. And it's also not just a raise for teenagers who are working part-time for extra pizza money, as Republicans also like to claim. Just 15.9 percent of people who'd be affected by a minimum wage increase to $9.00 are under 20 years old, while 84.1 percent are 20 and older. As for working part-time, not so much:

16.9% of those who'd be affected by raising minimum wage to $9 work less than 20 hours per week, 35.8% work 20-34 hours per weeks, 47.3% work 35 or more hours per week.
It's time to stop keeping people working hard to support themselves and their families stuck below the poverty level. And, with the last increase to the minimum wage having come in 2009, it's important to tie the minimum wage to inflation so that workers don't have to wait years for their next raise. Tell Congress to pass President Obama's proposed increase to the minimum wage.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 02:29 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Invisible People, and Daily Kos.

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