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New York, NY—February 13, 2013 - In yesterday’s State of the Union address, President Obama called for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour and for making high quality early education available to every child. If enacted, these proposals could significantly improve economic security for workers and families who struggle to get by on low wages, and help young children along the pathway to higher school achievement and a more productive adult life.
Low-wage work has grown much more common in the U.S. than in peer high-income countries. Within the U.S., low-wage work is more common for women than for men, and is especially common for single mothers. Women, who have much higher poverty rates than men, are the majority of those who would potentially benefit from an increase in the federal minimum wage, now $7.25 an hour. A $9.00 an hour minimum wage would lead to higher wages for millions of workers and their families.
High quality early childhood education improves children’s school performance, raises graduation rates, and puts children on the path to good adult jobs. Publicly-funded early education also makes it easier for parents to hold a job without paying exorbitant child care costs. In peer countries, publicly-funded early education is now typically available to all children ages 3 and 4. However, in the U.S., only about 40% of 4 year-olds and 20% of 3 year-olds are now enrolled in an early education program.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama also praised the Senate’s passage earlier in the day of a bipartisan Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill, and urged the House to also pass a VAWA reauthorization bill. The Senate reauthorization bill aims to reduce domestic violence homicides and to extend public housing protections to survivors of sexual assault, while reaffirming and deepening VAWA's longstanding commitment to protecting all survivors, including those who are LGBT, Native American or immigrants. Legal Momentum applauds the Senate's action and the President's call for the House to pass a reauthorization bill.
About Legal Momentum
Legal Momentum is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1970 to advance the rights of women by using the power of the law and creating innovative public policy in three broad areas: economic justice, freedom from gender-based violence and equality under the law. For more information visit www.legalmomentum.org.