The bottom line is Michelle and I want every child to have the same chance this country gave us. But we know our opportunity agenda won’t be complete -- and too many young people entering the workforce today will see the American Dream as an empty promise -- unless we also do more to make sure our economy honors the dignity of work, and hard work pays off for every single American.
Today, women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. Women deserve equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or a sick parent without running into hardship. And you know what, a father does, too. It is time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode. (Laughter and applause.) This year, let’s all come together -- Congress, the White House, businesses from Wall Street to Main Street -- to give every woman the opportunity she deserves. Because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds.
Now, women hold a majority of lower-wage jobs, but they’re not the only ones stifled by stagnant wages. Americans understand that some people will earn more money than others, and we don’t resent those who, by virtue of their efforts, achieve incredible success. That’s what America is all about. But Americans overwhelmingly agree that no one who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.
In the year since I asked this Congress to raise the minimum wage, five states have passed laws to raise theirs. Many businesses have done it on their own. Nick Chute is here today with his boss, John Soranno. John’s an owner of Punch Pizza in Minneapolis, and Nick helps make the dough. (Laughter.) Only now he makes more of it. (Laughter.) John just gave his employees a raise, to 10 bucks an hour -- and that’s a decision that has eased their financial stress and boosted their morale.