Five years after the official end of the recession, working families still struggle to keep themselves out of poverty. The current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour translates to an annual salary of $15,080—below the poverty line for a single parent with one child. It is nearly impossible for many families to make ends meet on the current minimum wage. Judaism teaches us that poverty is destructive to human dignity. Urge your Members of Congress to cosponsor the Fair Minimum Wage Act, H.R 1010/the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, S. 1737, which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and strengthen the economy for us all.
If the minimum wage had kept pace with the cost of living over the past forty years, it would be more than $10.55 per hour. Instead, the minimum wage today is $7.25 per hour. An annual salary for someone working at a minimum wage totals $15,080, roughly the same as the poverty level for a single adult with a child. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act, H.R. 1010 and the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, S. 1737, to raise the federal minimum wage through a series of gradual increases to an indexed rate of $10.10 over the next three years.
By putting more purchasing power into the pockets of millions of Americans, raising the minimum wage will not only help families make ends meet, it will be a valuable economic stimulus. This increase would boost the GDP by an estimated $33 billion and generate 140,00 new jobs.
We are told in Deuteronomy 15:11 that “there will never cease to be needy ones in your land, which is why I command you, open your hand to the poor and needy kinsman in your land.” Though the Torah recognizes that we cannot necessarily eliminate all poverty, we are taught that we must work to alleviate its impact. In addition, the Torah also emphasizes the importance of a worker's wages. "You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer… but you must pay him his wages on the same day, for he is needy and urgently depends on it (Deuteronomy 24:14-15)." Making sure the poor and the worker are provided for is a responsibility for society as well as for the individual.
Urge your Member of Congress to cosponsor the Fair Minimum Wage Act, H.R. 1010 and the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, S. 1737 so that working Americans can break free from the cycle of poverty, and that we might all benefit from a stronger economy.