Congress can promote the common good and contribute to a more just society by ensuring the federal minimum wage promotes family formation and stability, said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami and Dominican Sister Donna Markham, Ph.D., in a letter to Congress, on July 27. Echoing Pope Francis’ repeated calls for an economy of inclusion, Archbishop Wenski, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Sister Markham, President of Catholic Charities USA, said that “[a]n economy thrives only when it is centered on the dignity and well-being of the workers and families in it. As pastors and service providers, we see every day the consequences when society fails to honor this priority.”
"Because the federal minimum wage is a static number and does not change, each year it becomes more difficult for low-wage workers to make ends meet," they added. That means, they said, that the federal minimum wage does not support family formation and stability among low-wage workers, which increases demand for social services like CCUSA and reliance on the social safety net to make ends meet. "Indeed, recent research suggests that about three-fourths (73 percent) of those who receive public benefits come from working families, meaning they or a family member is employed."
Wenski and Markham coted Saint John Paul II, who wrote in "Centesimus Annus" (no. 15) that “society and the State must ensure wage levels adequate for the maintenance of the worker and his family, including a certain amount for savings. This requires a continuous effort to improve workers' training and capability so that their work will be more skilled and productive, as well as careful controls and adequate legislative measures to block shameful forms of exploitation, especially to the disadvantage of the most vulnerable workers."
They concluded: "Protecting low-wage workers and promoting their ability to form and nurture families are shared responsibilities and critical to building a more equitable society. One way Congress can contribute to this shared work of promoting the common good is by ensuring the federal minimum wage promotes family formation and stability."