White House delays push for higher minimum wage

June 03, 1993|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration has delayed its plans to push for a higher minimum wage because of worries about undermining job growth and antagonizing conservatives and business executives while the president's economic plan hangs in the balance, administration officials said yesterday.

They said the administration would probably wait until next year, and then propose an increase in the $4.25-an-hour minimum wage that would be far smaller than the $1-an-hour rise contemplated when President Clinton took office.

The move came on a day in which the White House seemed to be stepping back from, or at least delaying, a number of actions that have created distractions from Mr. Clinton's top priority, his economic plan.

With the U.S. unemployment rate stuck around 7 percent, the administration appears wary of throwing its weight behind a minimum wage increase, which would open it up to charges that it is sabotaging job growth and could make it harder to win passage of the economic plan.

"Unless we have six months of terrific employment growth, this thing is going to slide for a while," said one administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

But Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich said Mr. Clinton still planned to fulfill his campaign promise of increasing the minimum wage.

"There is no question that the president is committed to raising the minimum wage," Mr. Reich said in an interview.

Speaking about the minimum wage, a senior administration official who insisted on anonymity said: "It is on the back burner. There's an awful lot on the economic plate that has come to Congress, or that's about to come to Congress, that's upsetting business."

Business, which abhors the idea of an increase, is already seething about the proposed energy tax, a higher corporate income tax and new burdens that companies are expected to face to pay for the administration's health care package.

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