I usually don’t tolerate spoilers, but today I’ll make an exception.
About an hour ago, mainstream news outlets broke the story about 12 hours in advance of the State of the Union that President Obama would be announcing an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors from the federal minimum of $7.25 to $10.10.
For those who don’t want to whip out their calculators, that’s an incredible, whopping, 40% increase, and is a reasonable approximation for a living wage in most parts of this country.
For unemployed Americans, the new year was not a good one.
With the ushering in of 2014, many of America’s unemployed saw a sudden and terrifying cut to their long-term federal benefits. On December 28th, 1.3 million Americans battling long-term unemployment — that is, unemployment lasting longer than 6 months — suddenly found that the federal program that provided them with unemployment benefits had expired. And with that came the loss of critical income that has helped buoy these unemployed Americans through one of the toughest economic recessions in this nation’s history.
As the supposed Model Minority, Asian Americans are typically lauded as hard-working members of the workforce, and cited as reasons why unemployment benefits are unnecessary. Republicans frequently parade the Asian American community — and our below-average aggregate unemployment rate of ~6% — as reason to stop federal programs aimed to help this nation’s poor.
And, surprisingly, few Asian Americans have taken up the cause for maintaining or extending benefits for unemployed Americans. Yet, when we dig deeper into the statistics, there is ample evidence to suggest that cuts to long-term unemployment benefits should be a major cause for concern for the Asian American community.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!