By Congressman Bruce Braley
Every day, tens of thousands of Iowans work tough, full-time jobs only to return to a life of poverty at the end of the day. Unfortunately, this is the stark reality for Iowans making minimum wage, which is no longer a living wage.
After hearing from Iowans who were struggling to make ends meet despite working full-time jobs, I knew action needed to be taken. Recently, I took time to look at the history of the minimum wage and issued a report with my findings. The bottom line is that too many Iowans who work minimum wage jobs still live in poverty. Many of them are women, who comprise two-thirds of all Americans making the minimum wage.
In the last 45 years we’ve seen a more than 30 percent reduction in the purchasing power of the minimum wage. This mirrors almost perfectly the 30 percent increase in the stock market just last year. Even though a robust stock market is important, it’s critical that our policies and priorities focus on providing stability and opportunity for all Iowans.
That’s why I support a proposal that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. This increase would restore the purchasing power of the minimum wage — and have a real-world impact on hundreds of thousands of hardworking Iowans.
Right now, a single parent of one who works a full-time minimum wage job lives in poverty with his or her child. This increase would ensure that same family is no longer below the poverty line and can have some of the basic economic security that a full-time job should entail.
This common-sense approach isn’t just about the 46,000 Iowans making at or below the minimum wage. When this law passes, over a quarter million Iowans will see an increase in their paychecks—a difference that would have a real-world impact on every Iowa community.
Our economic recovery hasn’t treated low and medium wage income earners like it has higher income earners. Too many Iowa families continue to struggle to make ends meet. These families aren’t looking for a hand out; they’re looking for economic fairness. This includes making the minimum wage a living wage.