The Debate on Raising Minimum Wage
Low-wage workers across the country are pushing for a raise to the minimum wage. What's stopping it from happening?
Last week voters in Seattle-Tacoma, Washington area voted to raise the minimum wage for airport workers to $15 an hour. California recently approved a statewide minimum wage of $10 by 2016, and Massachusetts has set sights on a new increase. Last month, New Jersey voters approved an increase despite the objections of Gov. Chris Christie.
As Walmart and McDonald's workers demand higher wages, let's not forget that the majority Americans support President Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9. Some 71 percent of those surveyed were in support of the change, while 27 percent opposed it.
As Gawker notes, "If one were to work full time for 50 weeks a year at that wage, one would make $14,500, which is below the poverty line for a household of two....A $15 minimum wage would mean a $30,000 annual salary."
Heck, boosting the minimum wage rates by a mere 10 to 35 cents per hour, the increase puts anywhere between $190 and $510 extra per year to the 1 million low-wage employees across the country.
So what's the big fuss? As with many national conversations, the discussion is divided among party lines. Forbes sums up neatly, "...the universal question is whether a higher minimum wage drives employers to hire fewer people, as conservatives contend, or helps struggling workers without affecting employment, as liberals would have it." And let's face it -- critics dismiss low wage workers as too lazy to get a better-paying job.
Regardless, there is likely to be a shift in the national conversation with local governments rising up. As the Huffington Post reports, "The SeaTac vote is likely to face legal challenges, and for good reason: if it succeeds, it could become a model for similar initiatives around the country."
Do you think there should be an increase to the national minimum wage?