America's Minimum Wage Problem Essay

1322 words - 6 pages

America is currently working on the issue of whether the minimum wage should be increased from $7.25 to $10.10 and economists are studying the effects of the possible increase. Minimum wage workers deal with struggles such as affording health care, paying for education, providing food for their families, putting many hours of work in while making little income and paying their bills. America’s decision to raise the minimum wage would help low wage workers to make higher incomes and would overall strengthen the economy, pulling Americans out of poverty. Americans may hold a minimum wage job if they do not have money to attend a college or university to obtain a degree in order to find a career.
On the minimum wage, it is impossible to afford healthcare and education without making sacrifices. In “Affording Health Care and Education on the Minimum Wage,” John Schmitt and Marie-Eve Augier write “We ask ‘How many hours did a minimum-wage worker have to work to pay for a year of college education (at various kinds of institutions) or a year of health insurance for an individual or a family?” (Schmitt & Augier, 2012). Their findings were that “By 2010, minimum-wage workers at $7.25 per hour had to spend 923 hours to cover the $6,695 annual tuition at a public four-year college,” (Schmitt & Augier, 2012). This means that much of their work must go to education, which leaves little of their income left to pay for bills, fuel, healthcare, and other necessities. As a result, many workers must make the choice between shelter and food before education is even an option. By 2011, around 749 hours of work go to health insurance and these workers do not have money for the cost of living. Minimum wage workers salaries do not match up to the cost of living, especially if they are single parents.
On February 9, 2014, in the New York Times article “The Case For A Higher Minimum Wage”, the Editorial Board states that “Under the Democratic proposal, an estimated 27.8 million people would earn more money if the minimum wage were to be increased” (Editorial Board, 2014). Most minimum wage workers need food stamps, Medicaid, and the Earned Income Tax Credit to survive financially. Many of the low wage workers are stereotyped to be teenagers, but in reality the most common description of a minimum wage worker is very different. Most minimum wage workers are around the age of thirty five and one fourth of those workers are parents who earn half of their family's income.
A minimum wage increase is considered to be a successful anti-poverty program and would be a wonderful opportunity to achieve some economic equality, because the peak year for minimum wage was 1968. The issue of whether America should increase the minimum wage is one of the most thoroughly researched problems in economics and economist’s findings were that if a minimum wage increase were to occur, America would have higher pay, zero job loss, and a lower poverty rate. An increase is seen as a vital part...

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