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The Voice

The Minimum Wage Should Be a Living Wage

     $7.25 an hour is not enough money for an American citizen to live off of. Housing is near impossible to find on that kind of budget, and simple luxuries like a coffee in the morning become out of reach as minimum wage workers count out quarters to pay for enough gas to get home. The bottom line is, the minimum wage needs to be raised. There is no question about it. Not only will it help the poor people who have to live with it, but it will help energize the national economy as well.

     Raising the minimum wage would increase economic activity and bring about more jobs. “The Economic Policy Institute stated that a minimum wage increase from the current rate of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 would inject $22.1 billion net into the economy and create about 85,000 new jobs over a three-year phase-in period,” writes procon.org, a website dedicated to giving honest and fact based arguments for both sides of every debate.

     More money in the system will allow people to spend and save more of their income. Employees who work for minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour, often find themselves lacking the ability to spend money on big purchases. Instead they barely scrape by living paycheck to paycheck.

     If the minimum wage increases, these employees will now be able to put more money back into the marketplace as well as put money away in savings so that they can spend money later in life when they are out of work.

    A reduction in poverty would also be a big benefit to increasing the minimum wage. A report put out by the Congressional budget office in 2014 estimated that raising the minimum wage to just nine dollars would take 300,000 people out of poverty. An increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 would lift 900,000 people. The number of Americans lifted above the poverty line would increase with every dollar the minimum wage is raised.

     As humans, we need to start to care for each other. We should not be okay with leaving fellow citizens to starve or freeze over something so easy to adjust.

     Raising the minimum wage to a living wage with just a couple of dollars can have a huge lasting impact on those struggling to survive.

     Making the minimum wage a living wage would also reduce welfare spending. Dependence on government benefits would go down if low-income employees were able to earn more money. As people earn more money they would no longer need, let alone be eligible, for government aid. This would save billions of dollars which could be put towards other programs such as making a college education affordable or Pennsylvania roads drivable.
One of the main reasons people call for an increase in the minimum wage is the fact that it hasn’t kept up with the rate of inflation. Procon.org wrote, “Because the federal minimum wage is not indexed for inflation, its purchasing power (the number of goods that can be bought with a unit of currency) has dropped considerably since its peak in 1968.” Not only does this hurt the numbers but it hurts the people behind those numbers. People can’t afford to buy houses, cars or afford large loans such as those needed to attend universities. A low minimum wage also prevents families from being able to purchase all the necessities needed for raising children.

     Worker productivity will increase and employee turnover will decrease if the minimum wage is raised. If people are being paid more employees will feel more incentivized to stay with their current employers. Alan Manning, a professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, stated, “As the minimum wage rises and work becomes more attractive, labor turnover rates and absenteeism tend to decline.” This makes sense.

     When an employee feels they are valued and that they are getting properly compensated for their time and work, they are going to want to stay and continuing working. They feel more satisfied in their position.

     Whereas, if they feel undervalued they wouldn’t hesitate to leave and find something that might be better for them.

     No one wants to feel alone or underappreciated and sadly that’s the case for a multitude of minimum wage workers. Minimum wage employees are not just high school or college students and it’s not always a temporary job.

    There are plenty of Americans out there who make their career out of a minimum wage job for a variety of reasonn, all of them perfectly valid. Some people aren’t qualified for anything more glamourous because they can’t afford a college degree. Some find that they simply enjoy the job. These people, no matter their reasons, deserve the opportunity to feel financially secure.

     Hiding behind the idea that only young people or lazy people work in the minimum wage job field instead of addressing the real problems is not going to help those that are in need.

     One of the first steps to raising the minimum wage is throwing away the stigmas against the people who work these jobs and who will directly benefit from the change.

     Saying that someone shouldn’t be able to survive even though they are providing a service and doing a job just like any other worker in the U.S. is an incredibly self-centered idea.

     Let’s hope that we can realize this problem and find a way to make life easier for these people who work so hard for so little.

Taylor is a Junior Mass Communications major. She is a Managing  Editor for The Voice.


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