President Barack Obama supports legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $10 per, a White House official confirmed to TIME. “The President has long supported raising the minimum wage so hardworking Americans can have a decent wage for a day’s works to support their families and make ends meet, and he supports the Harkin/Miller bill that accomplishes this important goal,” the official said.
The Harkin/Miller bill, officially named the Fair Minimum Wage Act, would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 per hour. First proposed in March by Democrats Tom Harkin in the Senate and George Miller in the House, it would raise the minimum wage 95 cents a year over two years, and would include some tax benefits for small businesses who are traditionally the hardest hit with minimum wage hikes. Small businesses usually oppose raising the minimum wage, but previous wage increases have been matched with tax favors that sweeten the blow.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York told the New York Times that most of the Democratic caucus supports the bill, and that the party is preparing to mobilize behind it. In his State of the Union address in February, Obama called for the minimum wage to be raised to $9 per hour. “We know our economy is stronger when we reward an honest day’s work with honest wages,” Obama said. “But today, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year. Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong.”
The higher target of $10 comes as Democrats look to mobilize supporters and put Republicans on the defensive ahead of the 2014 midterm elections, when the party hopes to recapture the House. A higher minimum wage would have the greatest impact on workers under 25, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. About half of all workers under 25 earn the minimum wage or less. Just three percent of those 25 and older earn that little.