ENG 111 F18 D30B
Boss 3 Essay 18 Oct. 2018
The Federal Government Should Raise Minimum Wage
“The minimum wage was signed into law by President Roosevelt on June 25, 1938 as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938” (Patton). For many years, the minimum wage in Virginia Beach has been $7.25. The federal minimum wage is normally seen as a labor standard that imposes costs on businesses, and by lifting up the wage floor, benefits low-wage workers. Many people feel that having such a low pay that it is impossible for them to survive in this rapidly changing world. In today’s society, many families have to go through hardships because they cannot afford the many necessities that they need. The problem lies within the federal government not giving their workers an adequate pay for them to have a stable and successful life. “Connecticut has boosted it to $10.10 by 2017, the Maryland legislature just approved a similar measure, Minnesota lawmakers just reached a deal to hike it to $9.50. A few cities have been more ambitious — Washington, D.C. and its surrounding counties raised it to $11.50, Seattle is considering $15.00″(Reich). With much speculation, this topic has become a very intriguing argument. What people must understand is that to live comfortably you need to have a certain amount of income every month. With a higher minimum wage, families can live easier and have less stress.
People claim that if the minimum wage is raised that it may reduce the amount of open low-skilled jobs. When a topic such as this one has a broad amount of variables it is impossible problem to link this problem to the increase of minimum wage. In the article, “Should we raise the US minimum wage? Why people disagree – and what solutions might really work”, author James Dennin states, “Vigdor’s team found that employers were reducing labor costs by cutting hours for their least-skilled workers (Dennin) “. “Cutting back on labor led to fewer hours for minimum wage workers, which in turn meant less money: about $125 per month in reduced take-home pay, the authors found.(Dennin)”. The simple statement that if you are one of the least skilled workers that you will have your hours cut just because you cannot compete with the other co-workers is absurd. What this writer must understand is that it can be extremely difficult for some people to provide for their families for many different reasons. A parent must work a full-time job to be able to afford to provide for themselves and all of their children or even parents. They must take the path they know best, which is to work as much as they can. This can mean getting a second job or maybe three if they have very few hours at one of their jobs. This can cause them to work poorly compared to their co-workers.
As this subject of the rise of minimum wage continues to be looked down on people must realize that more minority families are becoming more common in today’s world. Not all families have the healthiest structure at home. It is important for the government to notice these structural differences and take action. Raising the minimum wage helps level the playing field in our capitalist society. It lifts up the lowest- earning among us and gives them more resources with which to build a better life. Especially in an economic system where women make up the majority of low- wage workers and more low- wage jobs are being created than any other. “41.7 million workers earn under $12 an hour and 58.3 million workers earn under $15 an hour—wages that are too low for families to thrive. (Oxfam)” Raising the minimum wage and ensuring that all workers are paid fairly and equitable is a key part of the economic justice we should be fighting for.
Dennin later states, “Unfortunately, helping the most financially vulnerable Americans might be more complicated than simply raising minimum hourly pay. (Dennin)” While that statement may be true, we can still ease some stress by taking the first step by increasing the minimum wage and seeing where that takes our low-wage workers. I know from personal experience that what the author of this article is trying to convey is wrong. When my mother was starting off at minimum wage the struggles kept coming. She could not afford to buy food every week, so we had to go to churches and local programs to get food. Also, she couldn’t spend any time with her children because she worked every day. Anytime my mother had to work to support us, my grandparents would step up and provide the time and attention we needed. Although I came to find how hard it really was for her to always meet the needs of her children, she did the best job she possibly could. After a long-awaited time she got a raise, which helped my family tremendously. We could now afford the items we needed and my mother had less stress. It goes without saying that raising the minimum wage would help minimum wage workers. It empowers them to live better lives, make better financial choices, and starts to liberate them from the vicious cycle of poverty.
One of the many benefits citizens can have from the rise of the minimum wage has to pay less for their necessities. In the article “Why we should raise the minimum wage”, author Robert Reich states, “With a higher minimum wage, moreover, we’d all end up paying less for Medicaid, food stamps and other assistance the working poor now need in order to have a minimally decent standard of living. (Reich)” Minority communities cannot afford the many items that they need. They are working day in and day out just to still be behind in bills. By raising the minimum wage, we’ll actually help power the economy. We’ll increase demand for products, which increases profit. “A $15/hour minimum won’t result in major job losses because it would put money in the pockets of millions of low-wage workers who will spend it — thereby giving working families and the overall economy a boost, and creating jobs. (Reich)” With more money comes more capability for self – sufficiency for the working poor, as well as liberation from government systems that help them scrape by.
As tempting as this extra income may be, citizens should be careful that this goes to the things they need. When anyone gets extra money in their pockets they may want to spend it all. If the minimum wage is increased, families will have a few extra dollars that they may use for unneeded things. When I was younger I remember my dad talking about another kid who was anxious to go to town for something. He described him as having got a hold of a nickel and it was burning a hole in his pocket. That description applies to a lot of folks who are always broke. We all need to think more about constructive ways of using our money and less about spending.
Also in the article, Robert states, “Employers will also have more employees to choose from – as the $15 an hour minimum attracts into the labor force some people who otherwise haven’t been interested. (Reich)” This means when the minimum wage is increased employers would find a drop inexpensive employee turnover costs, an increase in productivity, and more demand to fill any open positions. It’s also important to remember that, despite our economy’s currently poor outlook for job seekers, a key part of how our economy works is the competition employers experience when looking for strong additions to the team. Smart employers will want to remain competitive and snag the most talented, exceptional people for their workforces even in the mist of a minimum wage hike – so their wages will increase across the board, even and especially for workers who don’t earn the minimum wage.
The cognitive benefits associated with the increase of minimum wage are the big changes for those who receive it. Those who would be affected by increasing the minimum wage are vital contributors to their families’ earnings. For example, Marshall states, “With more family income, some people would choose to retire, go back to school, or have children, making it easier for others who need jobs to find them. Working families would have more time for community life, including politics; Americans would start to reclaim the middle-class political organization that they once had. (Auerback)” The minimum wage has not kept up with inflation. “Had the minimum wage of 1968 simply stayed even with inflation, it would be more than $10 an hour today. But the typical worker is also about twice as productive as then. Some of those productivity gains should go to workers at the bottom. (Reich)”As a result of the pay of many workers, particularly those with families of three or more people, are now well below the poverty level. As said earlier in this essay, the vast majority of these workers are not teenage part-time workers; rather, most are at least 20 years old, over half work full time, and many are struggling to support their families. With this increase, it can open a lot of doors for families going through hard times.
The quality of living comfortably is improved by how much money you are bringing in to support your family. Later Marshall states “An increase of a couple of dollars per hour or more in the minimum wage could make huge improvements in the difficult existence of the working poor, perhaps allowing them to exit the debt treadmill and stand a better chance of eventually rising into a revitalized middle-class (Auerback).” Low-wage workers are better able to meet their basic needs and to contribute more actively in the economy. “At a time in our history when 95 percent of all economic gains are going to the top 1 percent, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour isn’t just smart economics and good politics. It’s also the morally right thing to do. (Reich)” It’s good for workers, certainly, but we all benefit from a more vibrant economy, and from reduced public benefits costs. Raising the minimum wage is a gift that keeps on giving, creating a ripple effect that strengthens our communities and the nation. Increasing the federal minimum wage helps the lowest wage workers, boosts wages for those just above the new minimum, infuses much-needed money into the economy, and reduces the extent to which low-income workers must lean on the federal budget just to meet their basic needs.
The multiple positive effects that would result from a higher minimum wage are clear: it would boost the earnings of working families hardest hit by the Great Recession, spur economic growth, and create about 100,000 net new jobs. In an economic climate in which wage increases for the most vulnerable worker scarce, raising the minimum wage a few dollars, is an opportunity that America’s working families cannot afford to lose. Surely its time for our federal government to raise the wage, to show that they actually care.
Auerback, Marshall, “Top 5 Reasons Why Raising the Minimum Wage Is Good for You and Me”, ALTERNET, 24 July 2012 (6:00 AM), www.alternet.org/economy/top-5-reasons-why-raising-minimum-wage-good-you-and-me. Accessed 16 Oct 2018.
Dennin, James, “Should we raise the US minimum wage? Why people disagree — and what solutions might really work.”Mic, 30 June 2017, mic.com/articles/180995/should-we-raise-the-us-minimum-wage-why-people-disagree-and-what-solutions-might-really-work#.uzjYbhklJ. Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
Patton, Mike, “The Facts On Increasing The Minimum Wage”, Forbes, 26 Nov 2014 (10:46 PM), www.forbes.com/sites/mikepatton/2014/11/26/the-facts-on-the-minimum-wage-increase/#7d3be67633a1. Accessed 25 Oct 2018.
Oxfam, ‘Millions of low-wage workers in the US are struggling to survive”, Oxfam, 21 June 2016, www.oxfamamerica.org/explore/stories/millions-of-low-wage-workers-in-the-us-are-struggling-to-survive/. Accessed 25 Oct 2018.
Reich, Robert, “Why the Minimum Wage Should Really Be Raised to $15 an Hour”, Huffington post, 08 June 2014 (9:12 PM), www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-reich/minimum-wage-should-really-be-raised_b_5114747.html. Accessed 25 Oct 2018.
Reich, Robert, “Why we should raise the minimum wage”. CNBC, 27 April 2015, www.cnbc.com/2015/04/27/why-we-should-raise-the-minimum-wage-commentary.html. Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.