Minimum Wage Set to Surge…But There’s a Catch

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By Andy Celdo ’17

Laborers who are paid minimum wage include part-timers, breadwinners, and those in between. Some support families while others try to pay off their expenses for college. At times, it can be tough to make ends meet or pay debts on time.

With Governor Jerry Brown’s approval of $15 minimum wage by 2022 in California, laborers will have an easier time supporting their needs. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has also enacted a $15 minimum wage that will go in effect by 2018, according to California Enacts $15 Minimum Wage by Daniel Victor. More states should follow suit and increase minimum wage as well.

The new minimum wage should go through because laborers need to be paid a living wage. Their salary needs to be above the level to be able to afford basic necessities like water, food, and clothing. A $15 wage will not only help them with this, but it also gives them extra to enjoy leisure activities. The average annual salary, after the $15 minimum wage becomes reality, will be much higher than it is now.

A number of workers struggle financially and an increase from the current $9 minimum wage in New York would most definitely help them. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 3 million workers ages 16 and up were paid exactly or below the $7.25 per hour in 2014. Many workers weren’t even paid minimum wage, meaning the businesses were doing this illegally. With the future increases from nine dollars, it will help less fortunate laborers reach economic stability. For students, especially those in college and grad school, payments become easier with the gradual increases. This lessens the cost of college for their parents or whoever pays for the college expenses that have surged from previous years.

According to Why Does a College Degree Cost So Much? by Jon W. Schoen, on average in 2015, private, nonprofit, four-year universities cost more than $30,000 while in the 1970s they were no more than $2,000 (in today’s dollar worth). For public, four-year universities, they are less than $10,000 while in the 1970s they were below $500. This shows how the prices spiked up over the years, so why shouldn’t minimum wage increase as well?

Although a higher minimum wage does benefit a multitude of everyday laborers, it could start problems in the future. Companies may not have enough revenue to improve the quality of their products or continue supporting themselves, especially the smaller businesses. Some small businesses might fire employees or rise the price of their products in order to compensate for the higher pay to its employees. However, businesses approach the problems the wrong way.

According to Walmart’s Pay Raise Backfires: ‘It is pitting people against each other’ by Jessica Chasmar, when Walmart began paying new workers $10.75, veteran workers received no such raise and a lot were even paid less. Instead of reeling in new workers, businesses should reward the employees with more experience in this line of work. Also, businesses can also reduce the amount of products gone to waste. For example, buying a large amount of a consumer good when the demand is high.

Minimum wage needs to increase because the cost of living always goes up. While businesses have their own share of problems, low wage workers have to support themselves and their families. Businesses can surely come up with alternatives to compensate for the increase like expanding their network of connections in order to expand and produce more revenue.

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