Register | Forgot Your Password? | Close

PHOENIX -- A top U.S. labor official visited Phoenix Friday for talks on increasing the minimum wage.

Wage and Hour Deputy Administrator Laura Fortman heard life stories from several minimum wage workers.

One of them is 20-year-old Hector Florez, of Phoenix. He still lives at home, but his parents are unemployed. His dad made $18 an hour as a construction worker until five years ago. He was fired after his employer did a check through the E-Verify system and found that he had a false Social Security card.

The family of seven lives on the money Florez earns from his $8.50-an-hour job at a Family Dollar store.

"I have to pay utilities and food," Florez said. "Not having another job inside the house means that everything is on me."

President Barack Obama said during his State of the Union speech that the minimum wage should be raised to $10.10 an hour, and Fortman agrees.

"Definitely!" she said. "Currently, if you're working full time, you're below the poverty level. It's just not OK to be working full time, working hard and living in poverty in the United States."

Fortman said she's confident that raising the minimum wage would help the workers, even if stores and restaurants increase their prices to offset increased labor costs, which means the workers might have to pay more for basic necessities.

"People are able to get more security by having a little bit more income," she said.

Fortman's visit to Phoenix is part of a tour that also included stops in Las Vegas and Portland, Maine, within the past couple of weeks.

Bob McClay, Reporter

share this story:
Attention Comment Users: We have recently changed our comments boards.
We would like you to be part of the conversation and The Voice of Arizona by logging in with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing KTAR (Arizona Sports) account members will need to create a Disqus account or use one of the aforementioned social media logins. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus

World Class Arizona

  • Dignity Health

    World Class People. World Class Company. Excellent care, delivered with compassion, for all in need.

Voice For A Better Arizona

  • Family in Focus

    KTAR spends the week taking a look at the issues a modern Arizona family faces.