In his State of the Union address last week, President Barack Obama mentioned raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.
Though the plan will face much contention from Republican lawmakers, it is time for the minimum wage to reflect the increased cost of living so those who work hard are able to afford the necessities of life.
Like any other economic plan comprised by a Democrat, Obama’s plan to raise the minimum wage received a great deal of unwarranted flak from Republican lawmakers who continue the ideology that any government intervention will have negative effects.
Unfortunately, raising the minimum wage has turned into another divisive issue that pits conservatives and liberals against each other, leaving the American people – in this case low income workers – suffering.
Simply put, the price of things that people need to make it through life in this country is increasing. But, because of the fear of disturbing the laissez-faire agenda, the minimum wage has been held stagnant as its purchasing power dwindles.
The opposing argument is that, if you raise the wage floor, then employers would be less likely to hire, or even retain, their low-income employees and in turn raise unemployment.
While that argument does make logical sense, the argument starkly overplays the effects raising the minimum wage will have on unemployment.
Raising the minimum wage by $1.75 would add $3,640 to a minimum wage worker’s income, assuming the employee works 40 hours a week every week of the year. Regardless of the increased cost to the employer, that is more than $3,000 of increased disposable income that low-income families can use to pay rent, or pay for groceries – or even use to buy products from local small businesses.
The last time the minimum wage was raised in 2007, under President George W. Bush, it was still below any index in terms of cost of living when adjusted for inflation. To add insult to injury, worker productivity has been steadily increasing since the ’70s.
If the minimum wage were increased, even by the small margin that Obama is suggesting, then it would allow the people that are performing at higher levels than ever before an opportunity to be paid accordingly. Those who scrutinize raising the minimum wage are determined to let corporate greed and manipulation dictate a worker’s fair wage.
If the U.S. is to ensure that income inequality in the country does not become a defining problem of the nation, raising the minimum wage can ensure that the standards of living for all those who are working come closer to a level of subsistence.