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Congressman Emanuel Cleaver

Representing the 5th District of MISSOURI

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

Jun 5, 2018

June 5, 2018

(Washington, D.C.) - Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II announced the results of a two-year study released yesterday from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) regarding how the Central States Pension Fund handled thousands of pensions that are facing insolvency.

May 11, 2018

(Kansas City, MO) - Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II released the following letter this afternoon urging the Ford Motor Company to keep Missourians working at the Claycomo site. Ford produces the F-150 pickup and the Transit van in Kansas City. The F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for the past 36 years. See the text of the letter below.

May 11, 2018

Mr. James Hackett

President and Chief Executive Officer

Apr 27, 2018

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II speaks on the House floor about the importance of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Jan 22, 2018

(Washington, D.C.) – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II intends to vote “no” on the short term spending bill. The country cannot continue to operate on piecemeal spending legislation. The bill on the House floor today would only provide funding for the next three weeks and fails to address the domestic and military spending caps to better support hard working families and to enhance our national security.

Jun 16, 2017

(Washington, D.C.) – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II released the following statement upon hearing the news that President Trump has decided to rollback key elements of the current Cuban policies with the United States.

Jun 1, 2017

(Kansas City, MO) – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II released the following statement regarding President Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Climate Agreement.

“A withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement is short-sighted and a dangerous nod to the National Flat Earth Agency and others who refuse to accept the science that has been embraced by every nation on the planet except war-torn Syria and dictator-driven Nicaragua.

May 16, 2017

(Washington, D.C.) – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II joined the Congressional Black Caucus Diversity Task Force in sending a letter to corporate officials highlighting the need for greater diversity in the private sector. In the letter, the Members requested a meeting with the following organizations to discuss the issue: the US Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, the Investment Company Institute, and the Organization for International Investment.

Apr 28, 2017

This week, I’ve been asked this questions multiple times, “What do you think about President Trump’s first 100 days in office?” I can tell you my thoughts have ranged from disbelief to worry.
This administration has done little to improve the lives of the American people and his budget proposals would put an end to programs that would help the most vulnerable.
In the first 100 days, there has not been a single job-creating bill and the U.S. economy is moving at an even slower pace, the slowest quarter in three years.

Apr 21, 2017

These last few weeks, I’ve been spending time in the Fifth Congressional District of Missouri, meeting with constituents, and learning about their concerns. Members of Congress are elected to serve the constituents of their districts, and the first step in meeting that obligation is to listen to the issues impacting their daily lives.

Mar 16, 2017

“President Trump’s FY18 budget contains significant cuts and changes to several departments that are simply put -- harmful.