For years now Americans have been debating on what the minimum wage should be. Currently the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
Then, based on this floor, states can set their own minimum wage either equal to or higher than the federal minimum wage. As of January 2017, twenty-nine states have set their minimum wage higher than the federal minimum. Employers then have to conform to the highest minimum wage according to local, state, and federal law. Although this can be considered a good thing for employees, employers find it frustrating to have to adjust their wages and shell out more money. There have been many strikes in the fast food industry because employees believe they are not paid well enough.
Most fast food workers are paid somewhere around the minimum wage. But, employees have recently been protesting for $15 an hour. Many disagree with this amount because they believe it would rise prices in the already increasing industry. There are varying opinions in the minimum wage debate. Some people think the minimum wage is fine as it is. They believe raising the minimum wage could cause businesses to lay off their employees and overall cause a higher unemployment rate. The Congressional Budget Office projected that a minimum wage increase could result in the loss of 500,000 jobs across the nation.
Because of this, these people also believe that raising the minimum wage could show an increase in poverty. Because of layoffs due to the increase in minimum wage, this could eliminate some families only income, slowly pushing more and more Americans into poverty. It is also believed that the raise in minimum wage could cause a decrease in the number of employees business are willing to hire, making it overall harder to find employment to get Americans out of poverty. With the increase of a minimum wage, companies could buy machines or robots to complete eliminate the need for an employee. This would create even less jobs and increase unemployment. Lastly, it’s believed that raising the minimum wage could shut out teens and young adults from the working world. This group currently makes up 50% of minimum wage workers. Companies will be very hesitant to pay someone with little to no experience or skills $15 an hour.
On the other side of things, some people believe that the minimum wage should be higher, a lot of them believing $15 would be a good amount. Raising the minimum wage would reduce the amount of poverty we have in our country. Increasing the minimum wage to just $9 an hour would lift 300,000 people out of poverty. An increase to $10.10 would pick over 900,000 people out. An increase in pay would also reduce the amount of spending on government welfare.
Less people will need to rely so heavily on welfare if they’re making more money. This increase would also cause a healthier population in the long run. With more money, people would find it easier to afford medication they need and would be more willing to take the day off if they are sick. These raises would also increase worker productivity. If workers feel that they are being paid what they are worth they will be more likely to do better work. If these employees will get paid the same minimum wage amount no matter how hard they work then why should they go the extra mile and put in the extra work? Increasing their wages will make them feel more appreciated and motivate employees to work harder. Another big argument for this side of the issue is minimum wage has not kept up with inflation. Minimum wage in 1968 was $1.
60, this is equivalent to $11.16 in January 2016 dollars. This is over 50% higher than today’s minimum wage. This makes it almost impossible to survive on minimum wage.
It is currently not high enough to allow people to afford housing. To be able to rent a modest one-bedroom apartment in 2015 a worker would have had to earn at least $15.50 an hour. This is over twice the current minimum wage. In this report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition they stated: “In no state can an individual working a typical 40-hour work week at the federal minimum wage afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment for his or her family.” Someone living and working in California in 2015 would have had to work 92 hours a week to afford a one-bedroom apartment at their, then, nine dollar minimum wage. Even in Rawlins County, Kansas, what is believed to have some of the most affordable rental costs in the country, a living wage for just one person is estimated to be $9.35 an hour.
Much higher than the current minimum wage. A 2015 report by the Alliance for a Just Society found that a worker supporting only themselves would have to work 93 hours a week at the federal minimum wage to pay for everything they need or skip things like meals or medicine. Overall I believe I’m somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Although I do agree that we should have a higher minimum wage, I don’t believe $15 is the right amount.