Wanting to draw attention to an effort to increase the federal hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and ex-Gov. Ted Strickland are spending the week attempting to live on the current amount — sort of.
Strickland, a Democrat, said he’s fighting a cold and using Tylenol and nasal spray he has in his medicine cabinet.
“If I was paid the minimum wage, I wouldn’t be able to afford” either, he said Monday on a conference call.
Less than two days into the “Live the Wage Challenge,” Strickland said, “It’s been really, really tough.”
The challenge is organized by Americans United for Change, a Democratic advocacy group.
Both Strickland and Ryan, of Howland, D-13th, said they have the benefit of having items in their homes that they will use during the challenge.
Ryan, the father of a newborn, said he has plenty of diapers and medicine.
“Every day, hard-working Americans still struggle to make ends meet, and this challenge will give me an opportunity to walk in their shoes, although nothing could ever give me a full perspective of the hardships these men and women endure on a daily basis,” Ryan said.
The federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised in five years.
Ohio is among 13 states that has a minimum wage higher than the federal amount. Ohio’s minimum wage is $7.95.
A Congressional Budget Office report earlier this year states increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10, which has the support of President Barack Obama and other Democrats, could result in the loss of 500,000 jobs.
But Ryan pointed to recent U.S. Department of Labor report showing the 13 states with higher minimum wages are adding jobs “at a faster pace than those that did not.”
Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour is “the essential step that needs to be taken so people who work hard” can have a livable wage, Ryan said.
Ryan was among four House Democrats in 2007 who attempted to live a week on $21, then the weekly equivalent of what the average person on Food Stamps received, worth of food.
Ryan failed after federal Transportation Security Administration employees confiscated glass jars of peanut butter and jelly he had in a carry-on bag while flying. He ate a pork chop before the week was done.