Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey said hourly workers are facing high costs and flat wages, and they are wondering how they will ever get ahead.
Casey said it’s the number one economic challenge facing the nation, and has co-sponsored a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour in annual increments over the next six years.
Casey said American hourly workers face an unbearable situation.
“Wages are flat, and the prices of life’s necessities keep rising,” Casey said. “By some estimates we live in a country where wages went up by 12 percent… only 12 percent over 40 years.”
The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009.
Casey said many low wage families are desperate as costs climb for college tuition, health care, childcare, groceries and more. He said Congress must find a way to get wages up and drive costs down.
“We’re literally at the point where a generation of Americans are facing the prospect of making a hell of lot less money in real dollar terms than their parents,” Casey said.
Casey is a Senate co-sponsor of the Raise the Wage Act to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next six years. But the legislation has been met with skepticism from Republican lawmakers.
Individual industries and individual employers must decide what’s the best wage for its employees, said Congressman John Joyce (R – PA).
“There are wages that are certainly higher than a guaranteed minimal standard, and there are wages that can be lower than a guarantee minimal standard,” Joyce said. “The marketplace must be enforced to allow the best wage for the best worker.”
Despite Joyce’s objections, a similar minimum wage bill in the Democrat controlled House is gaining traction. It already has more than 100 co-sponsors.
But Casey’s Senate bill faces a much tougher road, where Republicans are in control.
Casey said a federal wage increase has not been done in a decade or more at the federal level. He said $7.25 is way too low and that Congress must increase it to $15 dollars an hour.