THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES:
I am pleased to transmit for your immediate consideration and enactment the "Working Wage Increase Act of 1995."
This draft bill would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to increase the minimum wage in two 45 cents steps -- from the current rate of $4.25 an hour to $4.70 an hour on July 4, 1995, and to $5.15 an hour after July 3, 1996. The pattern of the proposed increase is identical to that of the last increase, which passed the Congress with a broad bipartisan majority and was signed by President Bush in 1989. The first increment of the proposal simply restores the minimum wage to its real value following the change enacted in 1989.
If the Congress does not act now, the minimum wage will fall to its lowest real level in 40 years. That would dishonor one of the great promises of American life -- that everyone who works hard can earn a living wage. More than 11 million workers would benefit under this proposal, and a full-time, year-round worker at the minimum wage would get a $1,800 raise -- the equivalent of 7 months of groceries for the average family.
To reform the Nation's welfare system, we should make work pay, and this legislation would help achieve that result. It would offer a raise to families that are working hard, but struggling to make ends meet. Most individuals earning the minimum wage are adults, and the average worker affected by this proposal brings home half of the family's earnings. Numerous empirical studies indicate that an increase in the minimum wage of the magnitude proposed would not have a significant impact on employment. The legislation would ensure that those who work hard and play by the rules can live with the dignity they have earned.
I urge the Congress to take prompt and favorable action on this legislation.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
THE WHITE HOUSE,
February 13, 1995.
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