WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) helped unveil a new report which showed that the federal government would reap significant savings in spending on public assistance programs—like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—by increasing the minimum wage. Released by the Center for American Progress, the report revealed that nearly 88,600 Ohioans would no longer rely on SNAP if policymakers were to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.
“Opponents of both social insurance and a minimum wage increase can’t have it both ways,” Brown said. “If they’re really concerned about rewarding hard work, they should ensure that it is rewarded with a fair wage. Every day, millions of Americans work hard, take responsibility, but are barely getting by,” Brown said. “At the same time that they struggle to put food on the table for their families, there is an orchestrated attempt to cut SNAP and other safety net programs. Opponents wrongly argue that these programs foster a culture of dependency and don’t reward work. If we raise the minimum wage, we can ensure that more Americans earn a living wage, reduce federal spending, and boost the economy.”
“This research underscores that the best way to reduce spending on nutrition assistance is not cutting food aid for families struggling against hunger, but improving the bottom lines of families by ensuring that they are not earning poverty wages to begin with,” said CAP President Neera Tanden. “Lawmakers calling themselves fiscal conservatives should wholly embrace a minimum-wage increase that will generate $46 billion of in savings in nutrition assistance aid alone.”
The study, which was commissioned by CAP, is a first-of-its-kind report that puts a dollar figure on how much money the government stands to save in SNAP expenditures and provides expected state-by-state enrollment reductions if policymakers were to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. According to CAP, the report found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would lower government spending on SNAP by $46 billion over the next 10 years. Raising the minimum wage would also reduce SNAP enrollments by 3.3 million to 3.8 million people nationwide.
Brown is the cosponsor of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage. It would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from its current $7.25—in three steps of 95 cents—then provide for automatic annual increases linked to changes in the cost of living. The bill would also gradually raise the minimum wage for tipped workers—which currently stands at just $2.13 an hour—for the first time in more than 20 years, to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.
Workers who are paid a minimum wage in Ohio earn only $16,000 per year, which is more than $3,000 below the poverty level for a family of three. The Fair Minimum Wage Act would boost the minimum wage to $21,000, lifting families above the poverty line. According to the National Employment Law Project, the minimum wage has lost more than 30 percent over the last forty years. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would be worth approximately $10.55 per hour today. Increasing the minimum wage would boost GDP by nearly $33 billion and generate 140,000 new jobs over the course of three years as workers spend their raises in their local businesses and communities.
For information on the impact of the Fair Minimum Wage Act on Ohio, view HERE.