President Obama signed an executive order into action on Wednesday afternoon to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers by 2015.
The declaration mandates all federally contracted employees earn at least $10.10 per hour – up from the current $7.25 – beginning next year on Jan. 1. It is unclear exactly how many individuals will be affected, but the increase could potentially involve hundreds of thousands of workers and Americans with disabilities. The payment hike won’t influence current contractors, though. “I’m eager to work with Congress whenever I can find opportunity to expand opportunities to American families. But whenever I can act alone without Congress to use my pen to take executive action…that’s what I’m going to do,” Obama said during a press conference at the White House.
The president’s signature came one year after he first asked legislators to raise the federal minimum wage. While leaders in Washington took time to decide on their actions, six states passed individual laws increasing payment.
Obama said he has directed the U.S. Department of Treasury to create “MyRA” to assist workers with a retirement savings plan, rallied leaders of top technology companies for updated resources in classrooms, and brought together business leaders dedicated to hiring long-term unemployed citizens.
“No one that works full-time should have to live in poverty. Nobody, not here in America,” the president said.
Obama first announced this vow during his State of the Union address two weeks ago, continuing his focus to address economic inequality.
Job gains in the country are expected to average 200,000 a month this year. But a mere 113,000 jobs were created in January, the second straight month when the jobs numbers failed to meet expectations.
“We have to reverse those trends. We have to rebuild an economy that works for everybody, not just a fortunate few,” Obama said.
Similar legislative attempts formerly stalled in a gridlocked Congress. House Speaker John Boehner most recently criticized the president’s executive order because, he said, it “affects absolutely no one.”
The existing bills, proposed by Democrats Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. George Miller in both chambers, would boost wages in $0.95 increments and tie to inflation.