A raise for the better

October 6, 2021

Living in the United States is, admittedly, expensive. According to a survey by Statista conducted In 2019, the average consumer unit spent well over 60,000 dollars alone.

Compare this staggering statistic with the current federal minimum wage of seven dollars and 25 cents an hour, and we can start to see some of the inequality issues with the current minimum wage.

By doing some quick calculations, we can see that the average minimum wage employee in a consumer unit (which could be made up of more than one person, admittedly) would have to work 8275 hours a year to produce this stunning 60,000 dollars grand total.

That’s 344 days straight, no breaks, no sleep, 24/7. In a 365 day year.

Seems attainable, right? 

Let’s say that the consumer unit was made of three people. That is still 114 days of 24 hour straight work for each person to make this consumer spending statistic.

Raising the federal standard for minimum wage is the future of federal economic growth.

Let’s look at the economics of the minimum wage, to begin with. The minimum wage is something regarded as the wage floor– the minimum amount of money that any legal worker is capable of making.

While the minimum wage has, in terms of purchasing power, decreased since 1968, the productivity of workers has doubled. This has only heightened the gap between the employer and the employee.

Raising the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour would raise the standard of living for minimum wage employees and, according to a report on congress, would “provide boosts for the current economy”. 

The CBO also reports that raising the minimum wage would lift nearly one million people out of the poverty line.

Raising the minimum wage would, obviously, have some downsides that are currently being raised. Firstly, those against such claim that the minimum wage would increase unemployment.

Statistics used to support this point, however, point towards 1938 increases in minimum wage– in the middle of a recession where unemployment was inevitable.

Basically put, the idea that minimum wage increases will lead to higher unemployment is based off of data that is made off of a recession. The root of unemployment in these data times when minimum wage was increased was not based on the minimum wage itself, but the economy surrounding the raise. 

While the minimum wage has, in terms of purchasing power, decreased since 1968, the productivity of workers has doubled. This has only heightened the gap between the employer and the employee.”

— Tribal Tribune Staff

Other reports against minimum wage claim that it will increase the price of goods. Again, this idea is slightly incorrect because the study that this claim was based off of, an academic study in 2012 by the Wilson Review, showed that food prices would only increase around 4%– something that can easily be stomached by consumers.

Overall, the idea that minimum wage increases would harm the economy is incredibly flawed. 

As inflation is on the rise from increases in federal minting, a push for the opposite rise in minimum wage is necessary to both stimulate the economy and encourage new employment.  Minimum wage raises have not been consistent with inflation alone, let alone reflective of the increased productivity of workers.

By raising the federal minimum wage to 15$ an hour, we can help level some of the wealth distribution in the country and also provide a higher standard of living for poor workers that have been paid disproportionately for their time.

Federal minimum wage is not only an economic issue, it is an ethical issue. And America needs to treat it as such.

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  • M

    MikeOct 11, 2021 at 1:44 PM

    ZERO: The federal minimum wage should be zero and is, in fact zero. An employer can choose not to hire an additional employee. The employer pays zero and the unemployed worker with zero skills earns zero. Now if the employer hires someone with zero experience and pays them zero, in a few months the worker with have some experience and deserve some pay. The more experience one attains, the more they can command in salary from an employer in a competitive economy. That’s how real life actually works.

    Real life example #1: I got a job when I was 14 washing dishes and it paid $3.35 an hour. I had a tiny bit of experience mowing lawns and shoveling snow. That proved I could probably work hard enough to deal with the grind of washing dishes (at least during the day). The REAL dishwashers (grown men) came in at 4pm for the dinner crowd. They got paid more because they could wash WAY more dishes then I could. During the dinner rush, they’d say, I could go home. Basically, I was in the way.

    Real life example #2: I work in an office where we have many applicants for summer internships. Those interns now need to be paid and I still have to spend a large portion of my day teaching them to do something. A college student with zero experience is zero help to me. That intern uses up a lot of my time. It costs me time and money because I work on commission. So employers now bring in less interns.

    Real life example #3: I took an Uber home Saturday night and the driver was a recent college grad with a degree in mechanical engineering. He said he was waiting for the right job in his field that he thought paid enough. Again, recent grad with zero experience in his field. I suggested that he take any paying job in his field or even work for free for a few months to gain experience. Then he could switch jobs and/or ask for a raise.
    I argued that he paid tens of thousands of dollars to get an education, but has zero experience. Wouldn’t it make sense for that shift from him paying to him getting paid occur more gradually?

    Younger, less experienced workers make less than older, more experience workers. One needs to dig into the details of any study regarding worker pay or income inequality. The good news is that with a little hard work and sacrifice, anyone can move up the salary ladder. Any minimum wage puts a cap on inexperienced workers’ ability to get ahead.