Four years after the official end of the recession, working families still struggle to keep themselves out of poverty. With a current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, which translates to an annual salary of $15,080, it is nearly impossible for many families to make ends meet. Judaism teaches us that poverty is destructive to human dignity. Urge your Members of Congress to cosponsor the Fair Minimum Wage of 2013, and help create economic opportunity for 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 of 2013 (S. 460/H.R. 1010) 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 so that working Americans can break free from the cycle of poverty, and that we might all benefit from a stronger economy.