Raising the federal minimum wage remains a polarizing issue, even though 75% of American support doing so. Contrary to the myth that these jobs are held by teenagers, The Department of Labor states “88 percent of those who would benefit from a federal minimum wage increase are age 20 or older, and 55 percent are women.” Productivity has also vastly increased, yet wages remain flat. The $3.35 minimum wage in 1981 had more buying power than the $7.25 people are paid today. So don’t Americans deserve a raise? As author and commentator Anita Finlay notes, various federal assistance programs currently costs taxpayers over $152.8 Billion per year. When those on the low end of the income scale get a raise, all that money goes right back into the economy of necessity. So which ultimately would cost the taxpayer less?
There are complex issues sewn into the debate, partly due to the judgment some pass on those living below the poverty line as somehow deserving of their circumstances. “They’re lazy.” “They make poor life choices.” And if we are subsidizing a family’s income with government assistance – do we look at their clothes or phone and say – “I don’t want to pay for that!” Author and commentator Shawna Vercher remains unconvinced of the affordability of raising the pay of those in retail positions (comprising many minimum wage jobs), while Anita debates the point, given that employers who reward employees with better pay save money on employment searches and training due to lower turnover rates. Also, in California, where service workers receive higher wages, restaurant earnings are outpacing the rest of the nation.
Who’s right? With heating opinions on both sides, Shawna and Anita start a discussion and hope you’ll weigh in. Don’t miss this episode of Dare We Say…
References and articles to inspire further debate are linked below:
The High Cost of Poverty by DeNeen L. Brown
Dept of Labor: Minimum Wage Mythbusters
An article on Postal Banking by David Dayen
Pew Research: Who Makes Minimum Wage