MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Less than 24 hours after the President Barack Obama proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour, Minnesota Democratic lawmakers unveiled a plan of their own to raise state pay for low income workers to $9.50.

The president is right about how little money a family makes earning the federal minimum wage.

“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,” Obama said in his State of the Union address.

That’s true.

A family of four earning the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour makes $24,128. The federal poverty line for that family is very close to that: $23,550.

But federal figures show most minimum wage earners are young workers.

“[L]et’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour”, Obama said.

Here’s what you need to know.

Of the 73.9 million American workers at or below minimum wage, 49.5 percent are under the age of 25.

And many of them are teenagers.

But it doesn’t mean Minnesota families aren’t feeling the pinch, said Minnesota State Rep. Melissa Hortman.

“Poor people are poor because they don’t have any money,” Hortman said. “What is sad in Minnesota is that a lot of the poor people are working. And they are working long hours but their pay is very low.”

In fact, Minnesota’s minimum wage is among the lowest in the country.

Minimum Wage

MN: $6.15
US: $7.25

At $6.15 an hour, it’s one of only four states below the federal wage.

And it’s lower than any of the surrounding states in the Upper Midwest.

WI: $7.25
IA: $7.25
SD: $7.25
ND: $7.25

But the plan raising it to $9.50 an hour would make Minnesota a state among the highest.

What the president is not saying, however, is that when he ran for office in 2008, he proposed raising the federal minimum wage even higher — to $9.50 an hour.

But even with a Democratic House and Senate, Obama did not deliver on the pledge.

And with Republicans now controlling the House and opposing the minimum wage hike, the chances of passing it are very low.

Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check:

2013 Minimum Wage By State

Federal Poverty Guidelines

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Minimum Wage

World Incomes

Wage and Salary Data

Minimum Wages May Increase Unemployment?

Text of President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address

Pat Kessler


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