Washington, D.C.- Senators Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) and Representatives David Bonior (D-Mich.) and House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) held a press conference in the Capitol this morning to announce the re-introduction of legislation to raise the minimum wage by $1.50 by 2004, which would bring the minimum wage to $6.65 per hour. The following is a statement by Congresswoman Pelosi:
It is time to raise the minimum wage. Unless Congress acts soon, inflation will wipe out all the benefits of the 1997 increase. Lets talk about who will benefit. The higher minimum wage will help women. It will help children. It will help minorities.
It will help families who are barely scraping by economically, or who are falling through the cracks in our economy. The majority of minimum wage workers are adults (68 percent), not teenagers.
Although less than half of the workforce is female, 61 percent of the workers who would be helped by the minimum wage increase are women.
Although less than a quarter of the workforce is African-American and Hispanic, about a third of the workers who would benefit are members of these two ethnic groups.
Last week, many of my colleagues stood on the floor of the House of Representatives during the debate on the welfare bill and talked about the value of work. Every one of those congressmen and women should put their names on this bill.
The vast majority of welfare recipients want to work, they want to climb out of poverty, but they cant do it if they cant earn enough money to support their families. Opponents keep singing the same old song. They say if the minimum wage goes up, some workers will lose their jobs. Its time for them to look at the evidence.
Economists have searched time and again for evidence of loss of employment
caused by the minimum wage, but they have generally found no such effect.
If the minimum wage opponents really cared about workers, they would no longer fight to block workers from earning a living.
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