U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez is pushing for passage of South Dakota’s Initiated Measure 18, to raise the minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $8.50.
On Monday he said that purchasing power in the United States has decreased by 20 percent over the past three decades.
Perez says single parents working 40 hours a week live in poverty, relying on food stamps and housing subsidies at taxpayers’ expense.
He says if Initiated Measure 18 passes, minimum wage earners will spend the increase in pay, and that money goes out into the business community, where it circulates and improves the local economy.
“It doesn’t matter what state you’re in, whether it’s a so-called red state, a so-called blue state. For people across this country, wage fairness is a red, white, and blue issue. It’s an issue of fundamental fairness. We should reward work with a fair wage,” Perez says.
“Unfortunately, we have not been able to move the needle here in Washington. The president will continue to try. There has historically been bipartisan support for increasing the minimum wage, and I am hopeful that members of Congress in both parties will get the message through these ballot initiatives that support for increasing the minimum wage runs far and deep across this country.”
Perez says if voters approve the wage increase, they’ll also send a message to minimum wage earners that their work is valued.