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Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Published April 10 2014

Letter: Senator is co-sponsor of bill to raise the minimum wage

An April 7 letter to The Forum misstated my position on raising the minimum wage. I’m a strong co-sponsor of a bill to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.

Raising the minimum wage is about supporting our hard-working families and their children. And by helping them get more resources to support themselves, it also puts more money back in the economy as families spend on rent, food and gas.

This little bit of money will make a huge impact on the many working families who are just trying to put food on the table, afford to keep a roof over their heads or pay medical bills. More than 60,000 North Dakotans would get a raise of about $1,200 per year, which would also impact 22,000 North Dakota children who would have at least one parent getting a better salary.

According to the NDSU Extension Service, the cost of living for a single mother with two children in North Dakota is more than $43,000 a year, which means she would have to earn more than $20 an hour to make-ends-meet. That is nearly triple the current minimum wage.

Additionally, nearly 90 percent of minimum wage workers are 20 years or older, with the average at 35 years old. And almost two-thirds of all workers paid the minimum wage or less are women. Avoiding raising the minimum wage hurts families who could use a full salary.

It’s been more than four years since we last raised the minimum wage. Let’s give the many North Dakotans who work hard every day at jobs where they often don’t make enough to get by the better salary they deserve.

Sen. Heitkamp, D-N.D., is in her first term in the U.S. Senate.