Increase Minimum Wage Essay

998 words - 4 pages

The minimum wage was first enacted into law as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938. The original minimum wage applied to workers engaged in interstate commerce and the production of goods for interstate commerce. In 1938, this applied to roughly 11.0 million workers out of a total of 54.9 million workers. The minimum wage was set at $0.25 per hour. However, by 1966 the minimum wage $1.25 and applied to virtually all workers. In its beginnings, the minimum wage was set at a value that was high enough for a person to live off of (Valetta 3). However, in recent years someone who works a job that pays minimum wage will fall well below the poverty line. Therefore, instead of somebody working three jobs to support their family, a large increase in the minimum wage is a necessity. In essence, I do not believe that there should be a minimum wage; there instead should be a livable wage.

American workers are paying for continuously rising costs of goods and services, yet those who earn low wages have gone seven years with no action by Congress to raise the minimum wage to help them meet those costs. For too many working families a full-time job does not provide enough money to support a family. Raising the minimum wage would increase families' ability to pay for necessities such as childcare, housing, food and medicine. The annual income of an individual working full-time, with two children, at the $5.15 an hour minimum wage leaves them $4,100 below the poverty level. An increase in the minimum wage to $10.00 would benefit over 10.2 million children living in households where a worker earns between the current minimum wage and $10.00 per hour (Edith 1).

Because the minimum wage is not fixed for inflation, its purchasing power has decreased over time. The seven years since the last increase is the second longest period, which Congress has failed to increase the minimum wage. As a result of the unchanging minimum wage, a full-time minimum wage paycheck, which would have kept a family of three above the poverty threshold during most of the 1960s and 1970s, provides an annual income that is not even three-quarters of the poverty line in 2003(Miller 1). Many of the 12.1 million American children living below the poverty line would benefit from such an increase. The current earnings of a single parent working full-time at minimum wage covers only 42 percent of the estimated cost of raising two children. This is down from 48 percent in 1997 when the minimum wage was last raised. If the minimum wage were raised to $10.00 per hour, it would cover a much greater percent of the costs of raising two children, a significant improvement for working families (Michl 4).

Contrary to a common perception, minimum wage jobs are not reserved for teens. In fact, most minimum wage workers are adults, and many are the key breadwinners in their...

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