Raise the wage


Toby Burke Hemingway, owner of Hemingway and Pickett, supports a higher minimum wage and pays his four employees that amount or more. Hemingway and Pickett is home decor and gift store in Silver Lake are of Los Angeles. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

You return home from a long day at work filled with unreasonable customers and taking orders from a management team dedicated to squeezing every penny out of you.

Your feet are sore because you’ve been standing for the last eight hours. A stale odor emits from your work uniform and the grease from the fryer seems to have migrated onto your forehead.

Tired and hungry, but not alone, you walk to the living room of your single bedroom apartment to check on the child in the crib. On today’s minimum wage, you need to work two jobs just to keep above the poverty line for your little family of two.

And in today’s United States, that’s unacceptable. It’s time to raise the minimum wage.

Tuesday’s elections saw four states pass initiatives to do just that, raising the total to seventeen states that have done so since Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address, according to NBC.

While it’s a good start, we need our new Congress to take action and increase minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The White House is reporting that such a policy would benefit nearly 28 million Americans, many of whom are single mothers.

It’s often thought that minimum wage earners are just kids looking to earn extra cash for video games, movies, or activities with friends, but the numbers tell us otherwise. The average age of a minimum wage-earner is 35, according to the White House.

Furthermore, over half of minimum wage earners are women, and over half are also working full time. Unfortunately, their earnings buy less today than in 1950, according to U.S. Representative Mike Quigley, from Illinois. The American front line has become worse off in all industries, while corporate profits are higher than ever.

Ignoring that they can clearly afford it, the main argument against raising the wage is that it would be bad for business. Simply put, that’s not true.

Even Gap Inc. CEO Glenn K. Murphy recognizes this, and after increasing the minimum wage paid to the workers in America, said “Our decision to invest in front-line employees will directly support our business, and is one that we expect to deliver a return many times over.”

The Raise the Minimum Wage campaign has found studies indicating drastically reduced employee turnover when wages increase, saving businesses from the costly expense of training replacements and filing time consuming paperwork.

The same campaign reported on a study by the Chicago Federal Reserve which indicated that raising the wage increased “consumer spending, especially triggering car purchases.” Additionally, every dollar added to the minimum wage produces $2800 in new spending per consumer in the following year.

As it stands, over 70 percent of Americans support raising the wage, as reported by the Huffington Post. But for some reason, less than half of states have enacted policies to do that.

If Congress stepped in and raised the federal minimum wage, no companies would be placed at a competitive disadvantage. Workers from Idaho wouldn’t need to cross the border into Washington any longer to earn a living wage.

Paul Krugman noted in his New York Times opinion piece that the minimum wage has fallen behind inflation for nearly four decades, while in the same period, worker productivity has doubled.

In other words, companies today are making higher profits than ever while paying their employees less than they did in 1950 for double the work.

Write your Congressmen and women. Provide them with the statistics, explain your outrage with the way we treat our single mothers. Nobody working full time and supporting a family deserves to live under the poverty line.

It’s time to raise the wage.