Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez

Remarks at the Minimum Wage Executive Order Press Briefing, The White House, Washington, DC, February 12, 2014

[as prepared for delivery]

Good afternoon and thank you Jay.

The president has said that this will be a year of action. And so today, he will take an important step to expand opportunity by rewarding hard work with fair wages.

A short time from now, the president will sign an Executive Order to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for workers employed through federal contracts. If you're serving food or doing laundry on a military base…if you're a nursing assistant caring for our nation's veterans…if you're staffing the parking lot at the federal courthouse…or if you're working concessions at our national parks — then you deserve a raise. As the president said in the State of the Union: "If you cook our troops' meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn't have to live in poverty."

The president believes the federal government should lead by example as a model employer, joining so many private businesses who've recognized that paying a fair wage is both the right thing and the smart thing to do.

The Executive Order will benefit a couple hundred thousand people directly by increasing their pay. But it will also improve taxpayers' return on their investment — higher wages make for a more productive workforce, thus improving the quality and efficiency of services provided to the government.

But this should be just a first step. Every American worker, not just federal contract employees, needs a raise. That will take an act of Congress, so the administration will continue to push for the passage of the Harkin-Miller bill, which will increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

I'd be happy to take questions.