Reflecting National Trends, Vast Majority of Iowans Say They Support a Higher Minimum Wage:

Nearly two-thirds of Iowans support raising the minimum wage from its current level of $7.25, according to a new Des Moines Register poll released yesterday.  Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, is the Senate author of legislation that would increase the minimum wage over three steps to $10.10, then provide for automatic, annual increases linked to changes in the cost of living.  The bill, which is sponsored by Congressman George Miller (D-CA) in the U.S. House, would also gradually raise the minimum wage for tipped workers, which currently stands at just $2.13 an hour.  A similar bill is also under consideration by the Iowa Legislature.

"From now on, we want to change what's happening in America with low-wage workers.  No longer, in the future, will you work full-time...and still fall below the poverty line," said Harkin, who appeared on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program yesterday to discuss why raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do for millions of working families and the American economy.  "Studies show it's a pro-growth policy, that it will increase the gross domestic product.  We know that low-wage workers tend to spend every extra dollar they get, and they spend it locally and at local merchants. It has a great multiplier effect in our economy."  Watch Harkin's appearance on Newsmakers here.

The Des Moines Register poll showed broad support among Iowans for raising the minimum wage, with 89 percent of registered Democrats?along with 67 percent of registered independents?supportive of efforts to raise the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. Registered Republicans in Iowa are almost evenly split on the issue.  The Des Moines Register's poll is reflective of national polls showing strong backing for raising the minimum wage, with the paper citing a Gallup Poll showing 76 percent of American adults favored raising the minimum wage, and a Quinnipiac poll in January finding that 72 percent of Americans wanted a higher rate.

Working Iowa Families Unable to Make Ends Meet on Current Minimum Wage; Raising the Minimum Wage Would Benefit 300,000 Iowans:

The Register also reported on a recent study from the Iowa Policy Project showing that the current federal minimum wage of $7.25, which is also the minimum wage in Iowa, leaves working families in Iowa unable to cover "rock bottom" costs. Several key costs of living?including average food, housing costs, transportation, clothing, and household expenses in Iowa?have increased in recent years, while the minimum wage has remained stagnant for nearly five years.  An estimate from Progress Iowa shows that approximately 300,000 Iowans would benefit from Senator Harkin's bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10.

Fast Facts on the Minimum Wage:

The minimum wage today is at a historic low, and  has lost 32 percent of its buying power since its peak in 1968.  If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation since 1968, it would be worth roughly $10.71 per hour today.?

According to recent research conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, 28 million American workers would get a raise under the bill.  More than half of these are women, and 15 million women would get a raise.  The vast majority (88 percent) are adult workers, not teenagers.  Over 14 million children?19 percent of American children?have a parent who will get a raise.

The minimum wage today pays only $15,000 per year, which is more than $3,500 below the poverty level for a family of three.  The Harkin-Miller proposal will boost the yearly minimum wage salary to $21,000, lifting families above the poverty line.

Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour will give $35 billion in raises to millions of workers over the course of three increases, and increase GDP by nearly $22 billion as workers spend their raises in their local businesses and communities.  This economic activity will generate 85,000 new jobs over the same timeframe.

In 2014, 21 states and the District of Columbia will have state minimum wages above the federal level.  Ten states already have indexing in place to ensure that minimum wage workers do not fall behind, and an eleventh will start in 2015.  Thirty-two states have already acted to increase their minimum wage for tipped workers above $2.13 an hour.

For more information on the Fair Minimum Wage Act, please contact Kate Cyrul Frischmann ( or Allison Preiss (

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