Economy and Jobs

As inequality and outsize income gains at the top continue to rise, most of the new jobs created in this country pay very low wages.  Consequently, 46.5 million Americans live in poverty and 1 in 3 Americans teeter on its brink because our economy isn’t working for them. The real challenge today is that there aren’t enough good paying jobs for families to live on and the cost of housing, child care, and other basic needs is far too high.  Those at the very top of the income ladder seem to be only ones benefitting from economic growth.  With unemployment high and wages down, too many lower- and middle-income Americans are still living in the recession. 

The American people do not deserve this. Instead they deserve good jobs to care for their families. They deserve educational opportunities for their children. They deserve retirement security and access to affordable healthcare for their families.  Instead of reckless cuts to programs that support Americans who are struggling, we need to focus our attention on rebuilding an economy that works for everyone, including investments in job creation, education, and policies that provide a hand up to struggling families.

We should start by ensuring that every worker earns a living wage.  Workers should be able to earn enough to support their families. Corporations need to pay their employees decent wages and adequate benefits.  And, all levels of government should pay a living wage to their employees and should require living wages of government contractors. 

We need to raise the minimum wage and tie it to inflation so that a family breadwinner’s pay keeps up with the rising costs of housing and other basic needs.  The minimum wage of $1.60 an hour in 1968 would be $10.56 today when adjusted for inflation. 80 percent of Americans—and majorities of Democrats and Republicans-- support an increase in the minimum wage. People working full time jobs should not have to raise their families in poverty. I continue to fight hard in Washington to bring the issue of raising the minimum wage to the House Floor for a vote. 


  • Raising the minimum wage will increase pay for at least 25 million American workers.
  • It will lift more than 1 million Americans out of poverty.
  • That would directly affect 373,000 workers in Missouri and indirectly affect 578,000 workers.
  • That means almost 23% of Missouri’s workforce would be impacted by a minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour.
  • Hundreds of economists and experts agree that a higher minimum wage is good for our economy, our workers, and our long-term growth.
  • It is estimated that an increase in the minimum wage would generate some $22 billion in increased economic activity across the country and add 85,000 jobs.

The average minimum wage worker is 35 years old and is responsible for half of their family’s total income. More than half of all minimum wage earners are women.  In Missouri, more than two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. The hardworking men and women in Missouri’s Fifth District are long overdue for a pay raise. A hard day’s work should result in earning a decent day’s pay. It is time. 

Our safety net is working overtime to make up for those who have fallen behind.  When families fall on tough times due to job loss, unexpected medical costs and other challenges, programs like unemployment insurance, Medicaid, nutrition, housing, and child care assistance keep families on their feet. I remain committed to working together with my colleagues across the aisle to extend unemployment insurance benefits, payroll tax cuts, and infrastructure investments to help the middle class in the Fifth District and across the country. From the American Jobs Act to the Farm Bill, there are plenty of things we in Congress can do to help spur the economy and create jobs. If Congress could come together to pass the entire American Jobs Act, which includes further investment in infrastructure to rebuild our Nation’s ports, roads and highways, and assistance to state and local governments to prevent layoffs and to enable them to rehire hundreds of thousands of teachers and first responders, then we could create more than a million jobs. 

As you know better than anyone, there is more work that remains to be done. Congress remains trapped by crises of its own making, but I am ready to work together again and soon, to address high poverty rates, a depressed housing market, and large household debt burdens experienced by all too many. Most of all, we must create jobs, restore confidence in our economy, and rebuild the middle-class. I will continue to focus my efforts on creating jobs and keeping our economy moving in the right direction. It is what is necessary – and what is right for the people of Missouri’s Fifth District.


More on Economy and Jobs

Jul 14, 2021

Beginning on July 15th, nearly all working families in Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District will automatically receive Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments thanks to the American Rescue Plan—a historic relief package I was proud to support earlier this year.

Mar 26, 2021

American Rescue Plan graphic

Congressman Cleaver is committed to helping Missourians in the Fifth Congressional District of Missouri recover from COVID-19, which is why he supported the American Rescue Plan Act to get:

Apr 3, 2020

The Coronavirus or COVID-19 Pandemic has deeply impacted our daily lives and the nation's economy. As Congress continues to advance and adopt legislation to combat the pandemic, our office will centralize general information as well as detailed resources on a range of issues. Please explore our Coronavirus Tab to learn more about the relief options available for you. 

Mar 21, 2020

In response to the spread of COVID-19 throughout our communities and our attempts to flatten the curve through social distancing, I know many of our small businesses and their employees have been negatively impacted. To assist you through these challenging times I wanted to provide you with information about resources that are available to help your businesses and employees, including low-interest federal disaster loans.

Jan 2, 2020

Hello Friends,

Dec 11, 2019

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, United States Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) released the statement below following the announcement that House Democrats have agreed on a deal to strengthen the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).


Jan 31, 2019

(Washington, D.C.) – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II was proud to cosponsor and support the passage of H.R. 790, the Federal Civilian Workforce Pay Raise Fairness Act of 2019, which the House of Representatives approved yesterday by a vote of 259-161. The legislation would provide federal employees with a 2.6 percent cost of living increase in line with the raise given to members of the military and comes following President Trump’s announced pay freeze for federal workers for 2019, which he can legally determine unless Congressional action is taken.

Jan 25, 2019

(Washington, D.C.) – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II released the following statement regarding President Trump’s announcement today to end the partial government shutdown.

Jan 18, 2019

(Kansas City, MO) – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) and Congresswoman Sharice Davids, (D-KS) will hold a joint press conference Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at the KCATA Kansas City headquarters to recognize public and private entities that are willing to work with federal employees and federal contract workers impacted by the partial government shutdown.

Jan 18, 2019

(Washington, D.C.) – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II today called for banking institutions to work with federal employees affected by the ongoing partial government shutdown. In a letter to the four major banking associations, the congressman urged banks to contact customers and offer short-term loans and concessionary agreements to alleviate financial pressure and assist individuals weathering the current government shutdown. Congressman Cleaver is a high-ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee that handles legislation regarding the banking industry.