I wrote a post last year about the American minimum wage in which I created a mock budget and proved that the current base pay of $7.25/hr was a completely unsustainable joke for anyone over the age of 18. It doesn’t take an economist to recognize that a net pay of about $200 a week is laughable. That barely even covers rent, let alone food, utilities, and health insurance. According to my mock budget, anything less than $10/hr wouldn’t even be worth discussing, which is why the latest plan in Congress to increase minimum wage is vital.
Critics of my position argued that low wage workers should take on a second job. Well, that’s fine, but the point is we shouldn’t have to work more than 40 hours to feed ourselves and have a roof over our heads. Last time I checked, we have a 40 hour work week in America. Forcing someone to take a second job is just a sneaky way of avoiding paying overtime for hours beyond the 40 mark. If a person cannot possibly live a bare minimum existence on the base pay rate when working full-time, then we have a problem.
Workers Effected If We Increase Minimum Wage
The other critique I got was that most minimum wage workers are teenagers. Guess what. Also false. According to a new post on the Real World Economics Review, 88 percent of the 28 million minimum wage workers are not teenagers. Author Mark Weisbrot cites data from the Economic Policy Institute‘s findings that ”the majority are full-time workers, and on average they earn about half of their families’ income.” Minimum wage is not a pay grade dominated by teenage workers. End of story.
I’m revisiting this argument because Weisbrot’s post points out that, according to inflation statistics, we should increase minimum wage; it should in fact be $10/hr. My math held up. And, now for the great news . . .
A bill just hit Congress last week that would increase minimum wage to $9.80 over the next three years, pushing it up near its proper place relative to inflation. It’s about time we pick up some slack and give back to the American worker for once. This piece of legislation is an ethical responsibility and we all need to speak out and make sure it passes.