Calling minimum wage jobs “real hard work,” President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have agreed: their daughters need to experience what it means to work for minimum wage.
“I think every kid needs to get a taste of what it’s like to do that real hard work,” the first lady told Parade Magazine in an interview published Friday.
The Obamas were asked whether the first daughters, Sasha and Malia, should “work in the types of character-building minimum-wage jobs” their parents had.
“We are looking for opportunities for them to feel as if going to work and getting a paycheck is not always fun, not always stimulating, not always fair,” the President said. “But that’s what most folks go through every single day.”
The first couple highlighted their experiences working minimum-wage jobs throughout high school and college, saying the practice gave them initial insight to middle class working conditions.
“It gave me respect for those workers. But it also gave me an understanding that more is needed for folks to be able to cobble together a decent life on minimum wage,” Michelle Obama said.
The President, whose first four jobs paid either minimum wage or close to it, said he enjoyed working as a waiter in an assisted living facility, even though the residents were “cranky because they were on restricted diets.” He also worked as an ice cream scooper at Baskin-Robbins and as a painter, while Michelle worked at a bindery in high school, according to Parade.
The President noted raising minimum wage for federal workers was one of the initiatives he wants to fight hardest for before he leaves office in 2016.
“We want to start the conversation and move on all fronts. There are things I can do administratively, like executive orders on equal pay and on minimum wages for workers on federal contracts,” the President said. “If we can highlight these issues and sustain it over the next year, it’s still possible to see bold action out of Congress.”