A job is about more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. When I was running for president, I said it was past time to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Last year, I made a down payment on that pledge with Executive Orders directing my Administration to work toward ensuring that employees working on federal contracts and federal employees earned a $15 per hour minimum wage.

These directives go into effect this Sunday, meaning nearly 70,000 federal workers will immediately start to earn $15 an hour, and 300,000 employees of federal contractors will start to see a raise to $15 an hour reflected in their paychecks over the course of the year.

These are the customer service representatives who answer the phones to ensure that Americans get the health care they deserve; wildland firefighters who protect our forests and communities; custodial workers who keep our military bases clean and safe; nursing assistants who care for our veterans; and laborers who build and repair federal facilities. The workers that will disproportionately benefit from this pay increase are women, workers of color, and workers with disabilities.

This increase will provide those workers and their families a little more breathing room. And because we know that higher wages boost productivity and mean lower job turnover, these orders will allow the government to do its work better and faster.

These workers benefiting from these actions are critical to the functioning of the federal government and of our nation, and I’m proud that their wages will begin to reflect that. I continue to urge Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, so that American workers can have a job that delivers dignity.

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