U.S. President Barack Obama says 2014 will be "a year of action," and he's prepared to use his executive power and act without Congress to get things done.
In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama focused on
issues related to the economy -- namely income inequality and job creation.
To support the country's lower and middle classes, the president says he will work toward raising the minimum wage for future federal workers by 39 percent to 10-dollars and 10-cents an hour, up from the current 7-dollars and 25 cents.
Obama said higher wages would increase productivity and stabilize the workforce.
"What I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require Congressional action, and I'm eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still and neither will I."
The minimum wage has remained unchanged for seven years, and according to a fact sheet released by the White House, that means a family of four relying entirely on earnings of a full-time minimum wage worker would raise their children in poverty.
But President Obama's critics say a wage increase would mean higher costs for businesses and eventually lead to job cuts.
The U.S. president also addressed issues related to immigration reform and climate change.
He said the U.S. needs to become more energy independent, by doing things such as alternating oil imports with cleaner natural gas.
On the diplomatic front, he mentioned the pullout of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and the Iranian nuclear issue, but not North Korea.
Obama's speech comes ahead of Congressional mid-term elections this November, and at a time when the polls suggest growing disapproval with how he's handled the economy.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.