President Joe Biden’s executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $15 an hour has created some speculation that this is a push for Congress to raise the national minimum wage.
The current minimum wage of $10.95 for federal contract workers was set in 2014 by executive order under the Obama administration. Biden’s executive order is expected to take effect next year and is likely to increase the pay of thousands of workers, according to a White House press release.
“I believe no one should work full time and still live in poverty,” Biden said on Twitter.
The companies receiving the contracts employ security guards, food workers, janitors, computer support technicians and more.
Mack Shelley, the chair of the political science department, said there are an estimated four million people working as a federal contractor.
“This raise will affect lower-end workers; those with advanced degrees are making well over $15 an hour,” Shelley said.
Some states and counties, such as Iowa, will have to raise the minimum wage while others already have a minimum wage of $15 or higher.
“I think raising the minimum wage to $15 for federal contract workers is a good idea,” said Aura Garcia, a sophomore in sociology. “The cost of living is continuing to increase, and the minimum wage needs to reflect that. I think it’s a good idea because people deserve to earn a livable wage.”
Attempting to raise the minimum wage is not new for Biden. Throughout the presidential election, he campaigned on raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. Biden sought to incorporate this in the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, but Senate parliamentarians ruled for it to not be included.
“This executive order is Biden’s way of getting Congress’ attention on raising the minimum wage,” Shelley said.
This could also create pressure on the private sector to raise their wages so they can hang on to their workforce, Shelley said.
Garcia said she hopes this will help move Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, if not more.
“The current [minimum wage] is not enough for anyone to make a livable wage,” Garcia said. “The rise of the minimum wage is far behind.”