Raise and Supplement Incomes for Lower Wage Workers

Wages from quality work (with public income supports and supplements where necessary) should provide an income sufficient for workers and households to achieve an adequate living standard in the community. Adequate incomes also allow workers to invest time and money in skills training and other avenues for upward mobility. As a group, we agree that many lower wage workers are not earning enough through work to achieve upward mobility; we also agree that both public and private action is needed to increase incomes for lower wage workers. We do not have agreement on increasing the federal minimum wage, but we do agree on the importance of minimum wage requirements, and on the need to consider economic conditions when establishing minimum wages at the federal, state and local level.
We recommend these actions to raise worker incomes and living standards
  • Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) by expanding the credit to workers without custodial children.
  • Use public policy and partnerships among public and private actors to increase access to and reduce the cost of key complements to work, including housing, transportation, and health care. The goal should be to increase the standard of living on a given income and enable greater upward mobility, while maintaining and if possible increasing access to, and quality of, these key complements to work. While we recognize the importance of all of these complements to work, we have focused our attention on child care, as an area where supportive public policy and additional investment can make a major difference for lower income workers in the near term.
  • To help offset the high costs of childcare and other needs of young children, make the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for lower earners fully refundable, eliminate CTC earning thresholds, and/or increase the EITC for workers with children (see also child care, below).
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