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March 5, 2014

Food stamp use seen declining with $10.10 minimum wage

A proposed increase in the U.S. minimum wage would reduce food stamp expenditures by about 6 percent, or nearly $4.6 billion a year, according to a report from the Center for American Progress.

A proposed increase in the U.S. minimum wage would reduce food stamp expenditures by about 6 percent, or nearly $4.6 billion a year, according to a report from the Center for American Progress.

Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 from the current $7.25 an hour would reduce enrollment in the program, known as SNAP, by up to 3.8 million, even if it also results in jobs being lost, the group found.

Democrats led by President Barack Obama are pushing for an increase in the federal minimum, which Congress last raised in 2007.

Opponents argue that a higher wage floor would hurt those it’s intended to help by eliminating job opportunities for the lowest-skilled. A minimum wage bill from Democrats is opposed by business groups including the National Retail Federation and many Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.

The Washington-based research center, which has close ties to the Obama administration, released its report a day after the president reiterated his call for a higher wage floor.

“It allows more Americans to be able to support themselves through their wages than through government assistance,” said Michael Reich, director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California at Berkeley, and an author of the report.

As of January, 21 states and the District of Columbia had a higher minimum wage than the federal floor. Cities including San Francisco and Santa Fe, New Mexico, require hourly earnings higher than the proposed federal level, at $10.74 and $10.66 respectively.

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