Gov't sets wage increase for many of its workers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Many federal workers and contractors who earn the minimum wage are getting a raise next year.

Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez has issued a rule to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10. The higher level applies to new federal construction and service contracts beginning Jan. 1. President Barack Obama had announced the raise earlier this year, but Perez moved to put it into effect.

"No person who works a fulltime job should have to live in poverty," Perez said Thursday in a conference call with reporters. Perez also called on Congress to raise the minimum raise for all workers. The Senate passed such a bill earlier this year but it stalled in the GOP-led House.

"All workers, not just those who work on federal contracts, should have their hard work rewarded with a fair wage," the labor secretary said. "Lifting the federal minimum wage to $10.10 would lift 2 million people out of poverty and benefit more than 28 million people."

Many states have increased the minimum wage for state workers. As of June 1, 22 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"I meet with employers all the time who have raised wages for their workers because they know it reduces turnover, improves moral and boosts productivity," Perez said. "In other words, paying a fair wage is the right thing to do and it's the smart thing to do."

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