(TRNS) — The minimum wage for low-skilled employees that do work for the federal government will rise from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour starting in January 2015 thanks to a directive issued today by President Obama.
In an effort to pressure Congress and states to hike the minimum wage for all employees, Obama is issuing the order, which applies to “hundreds of thousands of people working under contracts with the federal government,” the White House said.
Those who will benefit include “nursing assistants providing care to our veterans at nursing homes, concessions workers in National Parks, people serving food to our troops, and individuals with disabilities working to maintain the grounds on military bases.”
The White House argues that raising the minimum wage will “improve the value that taxpayers are getting from the federal government’s investment.”
“Studies show that boosting low wages will reduce turnover and absenteeism, while also boosting morale and improving the incentives for workers, leading to higher productivity overall,” the White House said. “These gains improve the quality and efficiency of services provided to the government.”
The new $10.10 minimum wage will also apply to tipped workers, for whom the current federal minimum wage is $2.13.
Obama wants Congress to vote soon on a Democratically-backed measure that would increase the minimum wage across the U.S. to $10.10 per hour. But it is unclear when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will bring that bill to the floor. The earliest he could do it would be February 24, when the Senate returns to D.C. after next week’s recess.
Some polls out there show broad backing for raising the minimum wage. A Washington Post-ABC News survey released back in December showed that 66 percent of voters support the idea because they believe it will “help low-income workers get by.”
However, the same poll showed that more people believe the national wage floor should lie somewhere in between $7.26 and $9.00 per hour than those who think it should be above that amount.
According to the Department of Labor, 21 states and the District of Columbia currently have higher minimum wages than the federally-mandated level. Four states have lower minimum wages and five other states have no minimum wage at all. Some states, like Maryland, are in the midst of considering higher wage levels.