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Obama poised to raise minimum wage of federal contractors to $10.10

Obama during a past State of the Union
Obama during a past State of the Union

Administration officials announced anonymously today that President Obama plans to raise the pay of federal contractors to $10.10 per hour during his State of the Union address. He will do this by executive order. This would likely affect up to 250,000 federal workers in service related jobs. However, some are calling the effort weak, because it would only apply to new contracts, and so many Americans are still struggling at the $7.25 minimum wage that hasn't been raised in four years.

There has also been much talk that Obama will try to go around Congress with some of his legislative priorities and try to do more things through executive order, but that is nothing new. Obama has been doing this since at least late 2011, after the House was taken over by Republicans and they refused to pass Obama's jobs bill (or any other legislation). Called "We Can't Wait," Obama issued a series of executive actions on mortgage refinancing, student loan payback, and issues relating to No Child Left Behind.

The issue of the minimum wage seems to be a prevailing one, as it was mentioned last year in Obama's 2013 State of the Union, where he asked Congress to raise the minimum wage to at least $9 per hour. Congress, as predicted, did nothing. Recent polling shows that there is strong support (80%) among Americans to raise the minimum wage to at least $10.10 per hour, and tie that figure to inflation for automatic increases. This is even backed by a majority of Republicans.

It is unlikely though, that Americans will see any action from Congress on this issue. States, however, are independently moving on the issue. Some 20 states have set their minimum wages higher than the federal level. Washington is currently the highest at $9.32, where the battle for a $15 per hour minimum wage is taking root.