New Minimum Wage is Not Enough

By Samantha Castro ’16, Jocelyn Chen ’16, Amanda Farghli ’16, Kimberly Ho ’16

New year, new salary. As of December 31, 2014, the New York minimum wage has changed from $8 to $8.75. Do you think you can live in New York City, working for only $8.75 an hour?  Probably not.

“If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it,” said President Barack Obama in his proposal for a federal minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, as stated in the article Obama’s claim that raising the minimum wage helps low-wage workers ‘make ends meet’ by Michelle Ye Hee Lee of The Washington Post. “If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.”

Despite the recent increase, many New Yorkers still can’t live off working a minimum wage job due to increases of rent and transportation fares. According to mta.info, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) price changes will go into effect on March 22, 2015. The base fare is changing from $2.50 to $2.75, the monthly unlimited from $112 to $116.50, and the seven day unlimited from $30 to $31.

The minimum wage has to be raised by more than 75 cents in New York. 75 cents is not a big difference. Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to increase the minimum wage to $11.50 wage in New York City and $10.50 in the rest of the state, according to The New York Times article Cuomo to Propose 2 New Minimum Wages, for New York City and State, but it is still not high enough to support workers.

“The truth is it’s nearly impossible to raise a family in this state on even $12 or $13 an hour,” said Bill Lipton, the director of the New York State Working Families Party, a liberal-leaning third party that endorsed Mr. Cuomo last spring, as stated in the article.

According to the article Minimum wage workers get a raise Wednesday on democratandchronicle.com, California and Massachusetts has a minimum wage of $9, which is more than New York’s $8.75. How does New York, an expensive state to live in, have a lower minimum wage than California and Massachusetts?

However, businesses are opposed to raise workers pay because they think employers will be forced to cut jobs and hours, according to the New York Times article States Minimum Wages Rise, Helping Millions of Workers. Raising the minimum wage can cause more people to not earn enough to live in New York. Some businesses have a set amount of money to pay their employees, causing some employees to lose their jobs due to lack of funds. Poor employers, they lose more money and get fewer workers.

Surprisingly, fast food workers in Denmark don’t face job and hour cuts. According to The New York Times article Living Wages, Rarity for U.S., Fast Food Workers, Served Up In Denmark, Denmark fast food workers have higher minimum wages, $20 per hour, and have enough money left for themselves. While, 50% of U.S. fast food workers need public assistance to get by due to working a low paying and undesirable job. This is a huge problem that needs to be fixed.

For this problem to be fixed, the minimum wage has to be raised more than 75 cents. Raising it would cause a higher and positive effect. It is possible if fast food workers from other countries can afford to live off their salary and still have money left over. Why can’t the U.S. fast food workers be paid the same amount? Not only the fast food industry, but a lot of workers should be paid that much because of all the hard work they do.

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