U.S. Labor Secretary Pushes For Higher Minimum Wage07:23

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President Obama is signing an executive order today that will raise the minimum wage for workers under new federal contracts.

It's part of the president's bigger plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 from $7.25 for all workers.

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez has been out on the campaign trail, visiting local businesses to push the president's plan.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says raising the minimum wage would hurt small businesses who can't afford to pay higher wages, but Perez says he doesn't buy that argument.

Here & Now's Robin Young speaks with Secretary Perez about the administration's push to raise the minimum wage.

Interview Highlights: Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez

On the need to raise the minimum wage

"We’ve seen time and time again that the notion that if you pay a higher wage, you have to somehow hire less people or charge exorbitant [prices]. That’s been debunked by the business models that exist in basically every sector. I think we need to move forward because Americans do need a raise, and the purchasing power of the minimum wage has really decreased as a result of the inflation."

"It really doesn’t seem right to me that we have industries in which people are working a full time job and living in poverty."

On the idea that raising the minimum wage is a bad business model

"It’s really interesting to look at business models across the board. Let’s look at the big box business model Costco has demonstrated: that you can pay your workers a decent wage and pay your shareholders a decent return and offer very competitive prices.

"Look at the burger market. Any one of your listeners who has been to the West Coast, who has been to a burger joint called In-N-Out Burger. 6, 700 franchises across the West Coast. Best burgers around. They’ve always paid their workers above the minimum wage, because it was the right thing to do, and they retained their employees, and they have a competitive price."


This segment aired on February 12, 2014.