US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Kennedy: Tomorrow America Gets a Raise - After 10 Years, Hope is on its Way

Thursday, July 23, 2009Laura Burton Capps/ Melissa Wagoner (202) 224-2633

WASHINGTON, DC— Today, Senator Kennedy delivered the following statement on the floor of the United States Senate in advance of the minimum wage increase that will go into effect tomorrow, July 24th. Senator Kennedy led the fight for this increase and his bill was passed earlier this year and signed into law in May. Below is a transcript of his statement and a fact sheet on the legislation and the issue.

“Tomorrow, we'll celebrate the first increase in the minimum wage in 10 years. That will be the first increase in the minimum wage. It will be increased to $5.85 an hour. The follow on phases will increase it by an additional 70-cent, an additional follow on 70-cents meaning new hope and opportunity for 13 million men and women, primarily women, because it is the women, more than 65% of the women, are the million wage workers.

It will benefit six million children because more than half of these women that will benefit from the increase in the million wages have children. So it will benefit the children. This means hope is on its way.

It has been a long time. We have heard there are those that say, well, with the increase in the minimum wages this will cost jobs. It will work hardship on these people. That’s what they have said on every increase. This is the 11th increase in the million wage and they have been wrong every other time.

At the current time the strongest economy in Western Europe is paying $9.98 and they lifted two million children and have lifted three million workers out of poverty. If Ireland it is $11 an hour and they have the strongest economy in all of within Europe and they have reduced child poverty by 40% in four years and their economy is strong. So $5.85 in this great country at this time is just a statement that many of us believe that work should pay and that people that work 40 hours a week 52 weeks of the year should not live in poverty.”

More Press from the Chairman