A new bill introduced in Congress could raise the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2015. If passed, the bill, introduced by Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, would give over 30 million Americans a raise, Harkin’s office said.
“Millions of Americans clean our offices, wait on customers in restaurants and stores and provide care for our children, parents or grandparents," Harkin said in a press release while introducing the bill on March 5, 2013.
"Yet, despite all they do to keep our economy running, minimum wage workers earn just $7.25 an hour, [which is] not enough to pay the bills [or] much less aspire to the American Dream."
The bill, named the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, would raise the minimum wage in three steps of 95 cents each. A new policy called “indexing” would raise the minimum wage yearly to keep pace with the cost of living and inflation.
“A higher minimum wage would mean some people wouldn’t have to work two jobs to make ends meet. Although, I feel there are some underlying consequences, like the raise of prices,” Megan Kalb, sophomore at Iowa State said.
Kalb, who briefly held a job at the ISU call center, said most campus jobs she looked at paid above minimum wage. "It's an incentive to stay on campus."
“Raising the minimum wage is also about expanding our economy. With an increase in the minimum wage, workers will have more money to spend. This is just basic economics; increased demand means increased economic activity,” Harkin said.
Right now, Iowa’s minimum wage follows the national minimum wage requirement at $7.25 and for tipped workers, $2.13.
However, not all states follow the minimum wage requirements; Illinois' starting wage is $8.25. Some states, like Louisiana and Mississippi, have no minimum wage law.
A person who lives on minimum wage earns around $15,000 a year, which is under the poverty line set by the U.S. government.
If the bill passes, the earning salary per year will be $21,000. Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour will increase GDP by nearly $33 billion over the course of three years as workers spend their raises in their local businesses and communities. This economic activity will generate 140,000 new jobs over the course of three years, Harkin's office said.
“Building the middle class in this country means building opportunity for workers earning at or near the minimum wage, who are falling further and further behind each day," Harkin said.
"They are working hard and playing by the rules, and they deserve a chance to build a better life for their families. That’s why this legislation is so important."