It was just last year's State of the Union, when President Obama offered up this plan: “Let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.”
Now, he wants $10.10. A number from where?
The short answer is, from a plan by two democrats, Senator Tom Harkin and Representative George Miller. “It's going to lift the family of three with one worker above the poverty line,” says Julia Krahe, a spokesperson for Miller. She says $10.10 will help restore the value the minimum wage has lost since its peak in the 1960s. And, it's in-line with past increases.
“This is the number that was settled at that got at the three big things we wanted to do,” says Krahe. It’s also “a nice easy number to repeat.” Way better than $10.09. Or $9.97.
According to Demos, a progressive policy group, hundreds of thousands of federal contract workers currently make less than $10.10. “They are people cleaning the floor in federal buildings, people taking care of the grounds of these buildings,” says Amy Traub, a Demos analyst.
“It shows just how dependent the federal government is on contractors,” says David Van Slyke, a professor of business and government policy at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. He says, especially since the 1980s, the government has done more and more contracting for all sorts of labor.
Jobs that will soon pay at least $10.10 an hour.