Obama urges minimum wage hike in Maryland


McClatchy Washington Bureau

President Barack Obama traveled to a Costco store in suburban Maryland Wednesday to tout his support for raising the minimum wage, a key piece of the agenda he unveiled in his State of the Union address hours earlier.

"I firmly believe that it's time to give America a raise," Obama said from the store in Lanham, Md.

Raising, Obama said, the minimum wage would reduce turnover and increase productivity

Obama asked Congress to pass a proposal to raise the minimum wage for all workers to $10.10 per hour by 2015. A legislative increase would affect 27 million workers, according to an analysis of census data by the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute.

Obama came to Costco because the company's CEO pays more than the minimum wage with the average hourly salary is $20 an hour without benefits or overtime.

"Cosco's CEO understands that when customers have more money to spend," Obama said. "He sees if he’s doing right by Costo workers than they can buy that 80- inch TV too."

Obama said he would lead by example. In the coming weeks, he will issue an executive order to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour for employees involved in future government contracts.

The White House offered no estimate of how many workers the change would affect, though supporters guess that the number would reach into the hundreds of thousands, including those who serve food and wash dishes, clean laundry and buildings, and manufacture military uniforms.

Since his 2013 State of the Union address, when Obama first called for an increase in the minimum wage, five states have enacted a change themselves. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, D, is pushing his state to do the same.

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