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Congressman Joe Courtney

Representing the 2nd District of Connecticut

Courtney: Minimum Wage Increase Would Lift Families Out of Poverty, Decrease Participation in Nutrition Assistance

March 17, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON—After appearing with President Obama at Central Connecticut State University to promote an increase in the federal minimum wage, Congressman Joe Courtney noted that recent reports from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the Center for American Progress indicate that raising the minimum wage would decrease federal spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Courtney is an original co-sponsor of the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

“As the real-world value of the federal minimum wage continues to decline, these reports demonstrate that raising the wage floor would enable more American workers to provide for their families without federal assistance,” Courtney said. “Evidence shows that minimum wage workers receive a disproportionate share of SNAP benefits—meaning that American taxpayers are supplementing low wages and subsidizing employers who pay too little. The Fair Minimum Wage Act would lift nearly one million American families out of poverty, give 25 million workers a raise, and generate more consumer spending in communities across the country.

“During Farm Bill debate both parties agreed that SNAP spending needed to be reduced, but had vastly different views on how to achieve this.  Republicans proposed cutting $16, $20, and then finally $40 billion in SNAP spending over 10 years, without offering any solutions to enable workers to earn enough to afford basic necessities.  Congressional Democrats argued that by implementing policies to create jobs and grow the economy, SNAP spending would decline.  Raising the minimum wage would do exactly that—it would not only lift roughly 23,400 off SNAP in Connecticut, but would also reduce federal spending on SNAP by $46 billion over 10 years—more than House Republicans demanded in the first place,” Courtney said.   

Minimum wage facts:

· The minimum wage has lost more than 30 percent of its buying power since its peak in 1968.  

· More than 30 million American workers will get a raise under the Fair Minimum Wage Act.  More than half—17 million—of them are women. The vast majority (88 percent) are adult workers.  Eighteen million children (23 percent of American children) have parents who will get a raise.

· A full-time minimum wage worker earns only $15,000 per year, which is $3,000 below the poverty level for a family of three.  The Fair Minimum Wage Act will boost the minimum wage to $21,000, lifting families above the poverty line.

· 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.