Minimum Wage Should Match Living Wage

By Keturah Raymond ‘15

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order that expanded the living wage law in New York City, raising the hourly wage of $11.90 to $13.13 for another 18,000 workers who do not receive benefits on September 30.

A “living wage” is the minimum income required to have, and maintain, a normal standard of living. Mayor de Blasio hopes to match the minimum wage to the living wage and if he succeeds, according to the estimate provided by the city, by 2019 all hourly workers will make more than $15.

In 2012 the living wage law only covered 1200 people and with its expansion it will cover another 18,000 workers over the next 5 years. It is a higher number than before and de Blasio hopes to expand the law in the future, but the living wage law’s scope is still minimal and does not help enough of the struggling minimum wage workers in New York City. It is limited to companies that receive subsidies, money from the city, and thus it does not cover fast food chains like Mcdonald’s.

Rather than a living wage, the entire state should raise the minimum wage from its current $8 to match the current living wage. The reality is that flipping burgers at Mcdonald’s is no longer done by high school teens looking to make some extra cash. It is a job held by adults, men and women with bills to pay and children to feed, who were unable to find anything else in the current economy. Their wages should match their circumstances, and they should be able to provide for their families.

When President Obama sought to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10, economists and Republicans alike went on a rampage, criticizing the thought of raising it.

“The minimum wage is just a clumsy anti-poverty program,” said Allen Sanderson, a senior lecturer in the University of Chicago’s Department of Economics to the Chicago Tribune. Sanderson and others argued that raising the minimum wage would lead to a loss of up to 500,000 jobs and an increase consumer prices.

However, Michael Reich, an economist and director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California at Berkeley, in his research found the opposite. The effects of minimum wage increases were observed in different states, and he found that increasing the minimum wage by 10 percent had no impact on employment levels. It found the complete opposite. It saves business money by encouraging the workers to do better with the increase.

According to the the department of labor’s official site, the minimum wage will increase gradually by December of 2015. It will increase to $8.75 by December of this year then $9 by December 2015. This is a great step, but $9 is still not a living wage.

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