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Obama calls for increase in minimum wage

  |   March 5, 2014 at 4:18 PM
NEW BRITAIN, Conn., March 5 (UPI) -- President Obama called for an increase in the minimum wage in a speech Wednesday in Connecticut, saying the United States needs to provide more good jobs.

The president was accompanied by Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut and three New England colleagues, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Peter Shumlin of Vermont, as well as Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. He spoke at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

Republicans in Congress apparently think most minimum-wage workers are teenagers, the president said. But he said many people, especially single mothers, are trying to support families on $7.25 an hour.

Obama also said the minimum wage has failed to keep pace with inflation.

"Every time Congress refuses to raise it, it loses value because the cost of living goes higher, minimum wage stays the same. Right now, it's worth 20 percent less than it was when Ronald Reagan took office," Obama said. "And -- and since over the last year since I asked Congress to do something and they didn't do it, that was the equivalent of a $200 pay cut for the average minimum wage worker because it didn't keep pace with inflation. That's a month of groceries for the average minimum wage worker."

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