This email landed in my inbox last night. Titled, “What $10.10 would mean for you,” the email sent on the official White House address and festooned with the official White House logo attempts to sell President Obama’s desire to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.
For about 95% of the American work force, $10.10 would represent a pay cut. In many cases, it would represent a substantial pay cut. Just about 4.7% of the American work force earn the minimum wage.
The vast majority of Americans who have jobs already make above the minimum wage, in many cases far above. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average hourly wages in the United States range from about $13.66 in the leisure and hospitality industries to $35.40 for utilities workers in January 2014.
The White House email does not mention the Congressional Budget Office report on the minimum wage at all. Instead, it resorts to an airy assertion.
Raising the federal minimum wage will give millions of Americans a raise, and it’s long overdue — because no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.
From there, the email lists anecdotal support for raising the minimum wage.
The CBO found that while raising the minimum wage might raise 900,000 out of poverty as the federal government defines it, from 500,000 to one million jobs would be lost. The White House’s email does not mention that trade-off. It also does not mention the CBO’s finding that raising the minimum wage is likely to slightly increase the deficit over the next several years. The White House also fails to mention that just a small proportion of workers who make the minimum wage are living in poverty. Many Americans who earn minimum wage are children and young adults of middle class and wealthy families, working their first or second jobs.