Fact Sheet: President Clinton's Radio Address to the Nation: Minimum Wage (9/2/00)
             PRESIDENT CLINTON?S RADIO ADDRESS TO THE NATION:
              WORKING WITH CONGRESS TO RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE
                             September 2, 2000

Today, in his weekly radio address, President Clinton will mark the start
of the Labor Day weekend by calling on Congress to make raising the minimum
wage its first order of business when it returns from summer recess.  The
President first called for a $1 increase in the minimum wage in his State
of the Union Address in January 1999.  For more than a year and a half, the
Republican leadership has stalled the measure; tried to weaken it by
spreading the increase over three years instead of two; and burdened it
with provisions that would roll back important overtime and pension
protections and provide a huge tax cut for businesses.  So far, delay has
cost a full-time minimum-wage worker more than $900 in lost wages.  With
progress over the past week suggesting that a bipartisan bill benefiting 10
million American workers may be in reach, the President again calls on
Congress to set aside its legislative games and work together to help
working families make ends meet.

Minimum wage increase would provide real benefits for working women and
families: At a time when we are experiencing the longest economic expansion
in history, the proposed $1 increase before Congress would merely return
the real value of the minimum wage to the level it was in 1982.  This small
raise would provide real benefits for more than 10 million workers,
including millions of women and hard-pressed families:
?    Approximately 33 percent of minimum-wage workers rely on their income
to support children under 18;
?    More than 60 percent of minimum-wage workers are women; and
?    16 percent of minimum-wage workers are African American and 20 percent
are Hispanic.

A minimum wage increase helps hard-pressed working families make ends meet.
Raising the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 would raise the annual
earnings of a full-time worker by about $2,000 a year.   This increase
would translate into enough money to pay for nearly 7 months of groceries
or 5 months of rent.

Raising the minimum wage rewards work and does not cost jobs or harm the
economy:    Experience has demonstrated that increasing the minimum wage
rewards work and allows millions of additional workers to share in the
economic expansion without harming the economy or job creation.  Since the
last minimum wage increase was signed into law in 1996, the economy has
created more than 11 million jobs, and the unemployment rate has fallen
from 5.2 percent in September 1996 to 4.0 percent in July 2000.  Labor
market trends for workers most affected by the minimum wage increase --
including younger workers with lower educational levels and minorities --
also show no negative impact of the minimum wage on employment.  In fact,
recent research suggests that higher wages can increase employment, because
they increase employers? ability to attract, retain, and motivate workers.

Congress needs to drop ?poison pills? in minimum wage legislation: While
recent developments suggest that progress is possible on the minimum wage,
the President cautioned that many issues remain to be worked out.  For
example, Congress should not use the cover of giving raises to some workers
to take away overtime pay from others.  In addition, even though workers
have already waited nearly two years for an increase, the Senate has so far
insisted on spreading the minimum wage increase out over an additional
year.

Bipartisan cooperation can produce an increase this year: It has been more
than 19 months since President Clinton proposed increasing the minimum wage
by $1 over two years.  Republican congressional leaders first blocked the
measure, then as bipartisan pressure began building, were forced to allow
votes.  Even though the proposal had broad bipartisan support in both
Houses, Republican leaders continued to erect obstacles to its passage such
as spreading the increase over three years, linking it to proposals that
roll back overtime and pension protections and insisting on a huge tax cut.
Meanwhile, delay has cost a full-time worker $900 in lost wages and the
buying power of the minimum wage has continued to slip.  This week, Speaker
Dennis Hastert indicated that Republicans may be willing to drop some of
these obstacles.  The President is hopeful that the Administration can work
with Republican leaders to complete a minimum wage increase soon after
Congress reconvenes.

The minimum wage increase is a first step in completing work on America?s
priorities:  The President emphasized that providing relief to millions of
American workers by increasing the minimum wage does not relieve Congress
from completing work on a fiscally responsible budget that invests in
America?s priorities or other bipartisan priorities that have been
languishing in Congress for too long:  These include:
3    A meaningful Patients? Bill of Rights that puts the interests of
patients before insurance company profits;
3    A Medicare prescription drug plan available to all seniors;
3    Common sense gun safety legislation to keep guns out of the wrong
hands;
3    Laws to prevent hate crimes based on a victim?s sexual orientation,
gender, or disability; and
3    Permanent normal trade relations to open China?s markets to American
goods and its society to powerful forces of democratization.

                                   # # #


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