Congress Could Increase Minimum Wage to $10/Hour

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.

Increase Minimum Wage

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.

  • http://about.me/blyth Blyth

    Excellent post. I think it’s also worth noting that many minimum wage jobs have varied hours, and often the work schedules are posted with little advance notice, thus making it essentially impossible for a worker to have a second job even if one is wanted. It is indeed a minimum wage trap.

    • http://orderofeducation.com Josh Boldt

      Good point, Blyth.

  • jd

    Why not $20/hour?

  • http://adjunctorium.wordpress.com Melete

    BFD. I’m not earning minimum wage as it is. The college pays us for our presence in the classroom, not for the work we do outside it. This is made amply clear by the policy stating that if you are absent for any reason whatsoever, your pay is docked for that class.

    Let’s say you teach two 1 1/2-hour sections a week. You come down with pneumonia and miss your Tuesday class. You lose half a week’s salary because you weren’t on the job for 1.5 hours. Miss two classes, and you lose an entire week’s salary. Nevermind that you spent 20 unpaid hours before the semester began in course prep; nevermind that you were expected to attend several hours’ worth of meetings and teacher improvement shindigs, unpaid, before the semester began; nevermind the unholy number of hours you spend reading and assessing student papers; nevermind the amount of time required to jump through the silly hoops required for the college’s course assessment program.

    If you figure all that unpaid time, you come with a per-hour rate that is well below the present minimum wage.

    • Josh Boldt

      You’re right. Teaching jobs–with the hours required outside of the classroom–often figure out to be less than minimum wage. Personally, I just do my best to minimize my prep work outside of the classroom. Adjuncts aren’t paid well enough to devote extra hours outside of class.