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Minimum Wage Hike Would Boost Kids and Workers Out of Poverty

Annie E. Casey Foundation photo

Two new studies succinctly lay out the need for and the broad economic benefits of raising the federal minimum wage.

The Kids Count Data Book finds that the number of children living in poverty jumped by 3 million from 2005 to 2011—years marked by stagnant wages—and now 23% of the nation’s children live in poverty.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation report on child poverty, 26% of kids younger than 3 are poor and the rate for African American children is 39%. Yet two-thirds of children living in poverty have at least one parent with a full-time, year-round job and many of those are minimum wage jobs. Read the full report here

Meanwhile, a new report from the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United shows that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, as legislation in Congress would do, would boost more than half of the working poor in the United States out of poverty.

The ROC United report shows that some 6 million of the more than 10 million U.S. workers living below the federal poverty level would be raised out of that category by such an increase. 

The working poor are defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as those who had jobs or were looking for a job for at least half of the year and still fell below the poverty line. The current national minimum wage is $7.25, but President Obama called for an increase and bills were introduced in both houses to increase the wage to $10 or more. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) also proposed legislation to tie the minimum wage to prices in the economy. 

Also of note are these graphics that show the inaccuracy of stereotypes about minimum wage workers: More than 70% of minimum wage earners have a high school diploma or higher and 75% of minimum wage earners are adults.

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