Obama Wants to Raise Minimum Wage for Federal Contract Workers

Jan 28, 2014 6:15am

In his State of the Union speech tonight, President Obama will announce his intent to use his executive authority to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10, the White House said Tuesday.

The move is the latest signal of the president’s willingness to use executive action to bypass Congress when they are not passing legislation, a strategy he will stress in his State of the Union address.

The new executive order will increase pressure on Congress to pass legislation sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., that raises the minimum wage for all workers from $7.25 to $10.10.

The minimum wage hike the president will introduce tonight will apply only to new federal contract workers, giving contractors time to adjust and price their bids.  The workers who will be affected by this increase include janitors and construction workers working on federal sites as well as military base workers who make minimum wage.

Though it’s unclear how many federal contract workers make minimum wage, more than 2.2. million private sector workers provide public services that are funded through federal contracts, SBA loans, and Medicaid/CHIP grants, according to the National Employment Law Project.

The minimum wage was last increased in July 2009, when it rose from $6.55 to $7.25.  But over the past five years, prices for food, gas and housing have risen by 6 percent.

The president’s address before a joint session of Congress and a primetime audience Tuesday comes at a time when only 37 percent of Americans have confidence in the president to make the right decisions, according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll.

In his State of the Union, the president plans on focusing on the need to improve the economy and restore stability for the middle class.

“Tomorrow night, it’s time to restore opportunity for all,” the president said in a social media post on Monday.

ABC News’ Devin Dwyer and Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.

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