U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, is calling on Congress to raise the national minimum wage.
Casey, during a news conference with Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer at City Hall on Thursday, said passing the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 would boost the economy by stimulating new spending.
"Six years have passed since the last minimum wage increase was enacted," Casey said. "Pay for the middle class is stagnant while the gap between the haves and have nots widens. That is why I support legislation to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and to thereafter index the wage to inflation."
The purchasing power of the current minimum wage is down 30 percent from its peak in 1968, said Casey, adding that adjusting for inflation, the 1968 minimum wage would be more than $10.50 today.
"I had to find myself working two jobs just to make ends meet," said Beverlyn Santiago, a Reading woman who talked about her struggle to live on the current minimum wage. "Even working two jobs, I find myself having to borrow money just to keep the same standard of living."
Currently, 15.7 million children in the U.S., or more than one out of five children, have at least one parent who would receive a raise if the Fair Minimum Wage Act were passed, Casey said.
"This will be an important step to address an imbalance that can cause a full-time worker trying to support their family to be paid below the poverty level," said Casey, who serves as chairman of the Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.