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Jan 28, 2014

President Obama plans to act unilaterally and bypass Congress with an executive order that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for some federal contract workers, according to various news reports Tuesday.

According to The Wall Street Journal

The executive order would raise the minimum wage for workers on new federal contracts to $10.10 an hour, according to a fact sheet from a White House official. It said (the president) would announce the new policy in his (State of the Union) speech Tuesday. …

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, and hasn’t been raised since July 2009. About 16,000 federal employees were paid at or below minimum wage in 2012, according to the Labor Department. The agency doesn’t specify how many employees were government contractors.

(President) Obama’s executive policy change is the opening salvo in a broader, election-year push by Democrats to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for all eligible workers. The White House has planned for months to make the minimum wage an issue in November’s midterm elections.”

The Washington Post noted that, “An estimated 2 million Americans work on federal contracts, though the number of workers receiving the minimum wage would be a fraction of that.” It added:

A survey by the National Employment Law Project of contractors who manufacture military uniforms, provide food and janitorial services, and truck goods found that 75 percent of them earn less than $10 per hour. One in five was dependent on Medicaid for health care, and 14 percent used food stamps.

Obama’s action will only slowly trickle out into workers’ paychecks, beginning in 2015 and at the start of new contracts.”

The New York Times said that the executive order “is meant to underscore an increasing willingness by the president to bypass Congress if lawmakers continue to resist his agenda, aides said. After a year in which most of his legislative priorities went nowhere, (the president) is seeking ways to make progress without cooperation on Capitol Hill.”