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New Children's Defense Fund Report: Millions of Children Would Benefit From an Increase in the Minimum Wage

Ohanian Comment: Bush's No Child Left Behind slogan was hijacked from the Children's Defense Fund. Their proposed minimum wage legislation would do more for children than anything in the NCLB legislation.

To: National Desk

Contact: Ron Eckstein of Children's Defense Fund, 202-662-3609

WASHINGTON, May 18 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A report released today by the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) shows nearly 10 million children could benefit from raising the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. Sen. Edward Kennedy and Rep. George Miller are introducing legislation today to raise the minimum wage to that level.

In the report, titled "Increasing the Minimum Wage: An Issue of Children's Well-Being," the Children's Defense Fund shows that, in 2004, 9.7 million children lived in a household with at least one worker earning between $5.15 and $7.25 per hour.

A parent supporting two children and working full time at the current minimum wage of $5.15 would end up with an annual salary $4,500 below the poverty line. The pernicious sting of poverty puts these children at greater risk of poor health due to lack of affordable health care, increases their likelihood of falling behind in school and leaves families unable to pay for adequate housing, nutritious food or quality child care.

"Raising the minimum wage would benefit millions of children," said Richelle Friedman, senior program associate for CDF's Family Income Division. "Too many Americans are working full time and still cannot provide the basics for their families. No parent who works 40 hours a week should have to choose between paying the rent and putting food on the table."

Among full-time, year-round workers, poverty has more than doubled since the late 1970s from about 1.3 million workers in 1978 to more than 2.6 million workers in 2003. An unacceptably low minimum wage, which has not kept pace with inflation, is a key contributor to this increase.

A raise from $5.15 to the proposed $7.25 would mean an additional $364 every month for each minimum-wage-earning worker. This additional income would help low-income parents pay for their families' basic needs. This modest increase could help cover 90 percent of a three-person family's grocery bill every month, half of the monthly rent or almost six months of health care coverage for two children.

Members of Congress have allowed the wages of America's workers to stagnate for eight years, while increasing their own salaries seven times by a total of more than $28,000.

"Unless Congress takes action and increases the minimum wage, the salaries of low-income workers will continue to be eroded by inflation. It is long past time for Congress and President Bush to raise the minimum wage and ensure that the gains in America's economy improve the lives of all our families," Friedman said.

The report can be downloaded from the url below.

The Children's Defense Fund's Leave No Child Behind mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

— Press Release
Children's Defense Fund


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