Is $10.10 An Acceptable Minimum Wage?

By Carla Murphy Jun 18, 2014

A higher federal minimum wage may be a pipe dream in a stalled Congress but with cities and states increasingly raising their own minimums and more workers protesting nationally, President Obama had to get in on the action. For workers employed by federal contractors only Obama issued an executive order this February raising the minimum wage to $10.10. But is that enough? Some of those workers didn’t think so. And now a new report from progressive think tank Demos is asking the president to issue another more expansive executive order. Many in America want a raise. Even the IMF is asking the U.S. to increase wages. The growing consensus opens the door to a new debate that takes on more importance with 2016 on the horizon: what’s a meaningful raise?

The report’s main ask echoes Good Jobs Nation’s: instead of proposing a number, like Seattle’s $15, the new executive order should require a living wage and that private employers "respect" collective bargaining among workers. Those estimated to benefit: 8 million workers in the "federally-dependent" low-wage economy who are largely women (61 percent) and people of color (35 percent).

Read the report, which defines the "federally dependent" economy as private sector employers where more than 10 percent of annual revenues depend on federal purchasing. Roughly 21 million people or 8 million workers and their families comprise this economy, it says, and stand to benefit from the proposed executive order. The president’s current executive order, according to the labor secretary, will affect an estimated 200,000 federal contract workers.

Is $10.10 an acceptable minimum wage? Or is collective bargaining the prize?