Obama renews pressure on Congress for minimum wage hike
- 1 September 2014
- From the section US & Canada
President Barack Obama has said he will continue to press Congress to raise the federal minimum wage as the US rebounds from recession.
In a Labor Day speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Mr Obama said the economy and workers were now better off then when he took office in 2009.
"America deserves a raise," he said.
His speech comes ahead of mid-term elections in November which will see a close race between Democrats and Republicans for control of the Senate.
"By almost every measure, the American economy and American workers are better off than when I took office," Mr Obama said to an audience of union members.
He also pledged to protect the right for equal pay for women.
Mr Obama was speaking after recent economic figures showed a one percent decrease in the national unemployment rate and a 4.2% growth in GDP in the second quarter of this year.
He said these improvements were due to decisions he had made during his first term in office, which included an effort to bail out the US auto industry.
He also said introducing new healthcare legislation had made life better for American workers.
"America is stronger because of decisions we made to rescue our economy and rebuild it on a new foundation asking the simple question: is this good for ordinary Americans?" he said.
Despite the recent economic improvements, figures show America's long-term jobless rate remains high and real hourly wages have stagnated.
'Wore her down'
Increasing the minimum wage is a top issue for Mr Obama's Democratic Party who are fighting to keep control of the Senate in mid-term elections in early November.
The Republicans already have a majority in Congress and blocked an attempt to pass a minimum wage bill earlier this year.
This led to Mr Obama issuing an executive order in February requiring federal contractors to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 (£4.36) to $10.10 (£6.08) from the beginning of next year.
In his Milwaukee speech, Mr Obama said that contrary to Republican arguments, states that had already raised the minimum wage had seen job growth, not reduction.
He joked that he would press Congress for a raise in the minimum wage in the same way he courted his wife, by not taking no for an answer.
"I just wore her down," he said.