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Biden calls to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour

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U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (L) looks on as U.S. President-elect Joe Biden (R) delivers remarks on January 08, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The federal minimum wage is poised to get its first update in more than a decade.

President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday said he will ask Congress to boost the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour from the current $7.25 per hour. The federal minimum wage has not been increased since 2009.

The call to raise the federal minimum wage is part of a larger $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package called the American Rescue Plan aimed at helping boost the U.S. economy from the damage of the pandemic.

"There should be a national minimum wage of $15 an hour," Biden said during a Thursday night speech. "Nobody working 40 hours a week should be living below the poverty line."

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He added that though increasing the federal minimum wage may be difficult, individual states have shown their support by passing their own laws to boost the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

"Florida just passed it, as divided as that state is, they just passed it," he said. "The rest of the country is ready to move as well."

California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York have also passed state laws to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

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Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, as well as ending the tipped minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities will help ensure that workers across the country can provide for their families, according to the briefing.

"Hard-working Americans deserve sufficient wages to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, without having to keep multiple jobs," the incoming Biden administration wrote in a briefing paper distributed prior to the speech. "But millions of working families are struggling to get by."

The administration also pointed out that boosting the minimum wage will help workers at the forefront of the pandemic, 40% of whom are people of color.

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There's widespread support for a boosted minimum wage — two-thirds of Americans support a raise to $15 an hour, according to a 2019 survey from the Pew Research Center.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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