Melissa Harris-Perry | February 16, 2013
>>> tonight, let's declare in the wealthiest nation in the world that who works full time should live in poverty and raise the minimum wage to $9.
>> that was perhaps the biggest surprise from the president's state of the union address . at the p's push demonstrates the second-term focus on stimulating the economy at the street level. yesterday i had the opportunity to speak with white house senior adviser valerie jarrett and asked her what it would take to make the proposal actual policy.
>> in all of the communities, we have people who are living in poverty, and what the president is saying, in this country, as great as our country, if you are willing to work hard, you should be able to live above the poverty line , and making $14,900 is not enough to raise a family on and so he thinks it is important to raise it up. it is helpful for the family and 15 million americans will benefit from it, but it is good for the economy, because if they have extra money in the pocket, they will spend it, and that is held p ful to the -- helpful to the economy, and so businesses will see people coming in with a little extra cash to spend, and we are hoping that with the people behind it, it will put pressure on the congress to do something.
>> and we have heard the counter argument that raising the federal minimum wage will reduce the number of jobs available and hurt small businesses . what does the president say to make an economic claim that it is not just good for households, but for the economy?
>> well, it is what i mentioned if you have more extra money in the pocket, that disposable income will be spent in the same way that people who when they have benefits, they will spend that otherwise money out in the economy to raise the poverty level . that is what we are saying, if you work hard and play by the rules, you get a fair shot. that is what the president thinks of, the people who want the american dream that generations before in our country had, and figuring out how to have that robust economy coming from the middle-class, and it comes by providing those people with opportunities to afford a home or send their kids to college to do, their children will do better than they did and retire with dignity and a little money in the pocket. that is what most people want. that is what he is fighting for.
>> to help us understand the impact of a raise in the minimum wage is chris. you support a aggressive minimum wage , and why?
>> well shgs s, it is wonderful that the president has put raising the minimum wage on the agenda, and it is long overdue, because the minimum wage has declined in value for the last 30 or 40 years that almost any increase is welcomed, but the reality is that $9 will not lift the working families from poverty or build a strong floor across the bottom of the labor market which is where the jobs are growing. so we will be supporting legislation that is senator harkin and representative miller will be introducing that will call for raising the minimum wage to $10.10 which comes closer to restoring the minimum wage to the historic value . it will pump a lot of stimulus back into the economy. it will help 28 million low income workers and most of the workers are in families with relatively low incomes or incomes below the median income . most of them are adults, and half of them work full time and they depend upon the earnings to support themselves and the families, and this is --
>> yis, i wanted to underline that, chris. you were just talking about in the recovery how it is the bottom level jobs that have been the ones that have come back and showed us that in the context of the recession, we lost these middle income jobs and the jobs that have come back online have been often low-wage jobs. so is that an indication that this sort of $ 9 or the $10.10 that you feel is closer to getting people out of poverty, but that is what you see in the context of raising the minimum wages ?
>> yes, because the wages for the low wage workers have been falling and real wages falling for past three decades, and that was accelerated in the downturn. as you noted most of the job growth in the recovery has been in the low wage sector and that continues a trend for the past several decades, and we need to do things to take affirmative measures to lift the wage floor across the bottom of the labor market . that is where the job growth is occurring now and job growth is projected to occur over the next decade. unless we take actions to lift the wage floor , we will have more and more workers and their families slipping from the middle-class into poverty. the bottom line is that people who work for a living ought to make a living from work. there is nothing in the economy right now that is driving wages up. we need these policy interventions.
>> but the correlation is inflation effect, and job killing effect in relation to raising the minimum wage , and can you address those issue sths.
>> yes, this has always been the claim since 1938 when the minimum wage was first passed and we were told that we were moving toward socialism with the minimum wage , but the reality is that the very best research that has looked at 250 paired counties that are contiguous counties in states with differing minimum wages , and that has controlled for things like regional and economic shocks and low wage job growth and that research has found that there is no job loss effect associa associated with raising the minimum wage , nor does raising the minimum wage necessarily lead to inflation. there are plenty of ways that employers with absorb the cost of increased wages. productivity is higher and the turnover is reduced and greater efficiencies associated with the higher wages and particularly in the low wage sectors of the economy where so much of the work is based on the people's attitudes and people's performance. and people's job attendance.
>> thank you, christine owens. i am excited that the president has put it on the agenda in a way that hopefully we will see some movement.
>>> and the one graph that 1,000 speeches could never make.