Barack Obama Minimum Wage Order Affects Only About 200,000 Workers

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U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill on Jan. 28, 2014 in Washington, D.C.

President Barack Obama announced in his State of the Union address Tuesday a forthcoming executive order to raise the minimum wage for new federal contractors to $10.10 per hour, in what aides billed as a first step toward raising the national wage rate.

Republicans criticized the order as an insignificant move that would only affect a small segment of the population. On Thursday, the White House basically conceded the point, with Press Secretary Jay Carney saying that the move would effect the wages of “a couple hundred thousand” workers. The narrowly tailored order, which will be signed in the coming weeks, only affects new federal contracts, and only the employees who are paid on specific federal contracts, not others who work for the contracting company.

Speaker of the House John Boehner scoffed at the proposal on Thursday, telling reporters, “Let’s understand something. This affects not one current contract. It only affects future contracts with the federal government. And so I think the question is how many people, Mr. President, will this executive action actually help? I suspect the answer is somewhere close to zero.”

The White House, meanwhile, says the President kept the order narrowly tailored to ensure it could survive legal challenge. Senior Administration officials said they hope employers who will have to hike the minimum wages of some workers will choose to raise it for all their employees.

Meanwhile, Obama is continuing to travel the country highlighting efforts to work with Congress to pass a minimum wage hike, an effort that has met stiff resistance from House and Senate Republicans.