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Congressman Gene Green

Representing the 29th District of Texas

Protecting Working American Families

January 15, 2014
Speech

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the tens of thousands of my fellow Texans, the working poor and the unemployed, whom our economic recovery is leaving behind.

Blessed with ample natural resources, many of our nation’s leading companies and universities, and a can-do attitude, Texas has been America’s leader in job creation and economic growth for the past decade.  

Unfortunately, this economic success has not reached all Texans. Last year, the Labor Department announced that over 450,000 Texans earn at or below the federal minimum wage, more than any other state in the country.

Nationwide, 3.6 million Americans earn at or below the minimum wage - $7.25 an hour. This is just over $15,000 for someone working 40 hours a week for a full year or more than $4,400 below the poverty line for a family of 3.

And these aren’t just kids in high school or college earning minimum wage. Less than a quarter of minimum wage workers are teenagers and nearly forty percent are over the age of 30.

This is simply not right. Nobody, no matter the city or state, can survive, let alone raise a family, on $15,000 a year.

Mr. Speaker, it is time that the economic recovery benefit all Americans, not just the fortunate. Too many of our friends and neighbors are being left behind and I call on this chamber to bring up legislation that will increase the minimum wage and renew critical emergency unemployment benefits for those still looking for work.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I reserve the balance of my time.