Minimum Wage Argument Essay
Should the Federal Minimum Wage Be Raised?
The federal minimum wage today is $7.25, and it has not changed since 2009. Moreover, it is fair to say that it has not been keeping up with inflation and productivity since 1968. This statement may be daring, but it is not a false assumption considering the minimum wage back then was $1.60 per hour, equivalent to $11.76 in 2019 (Boschen, Grossman 12). Like every other topic involving the humankind, the issue of the minimum wage is considerably controversial. However, the fact that the federal minimum wage is not enough for a citizen to get by is undeniable.
The minimum wage differs from state to state due to the inaction of the authorities’ activities on the issue. As mentioned above, the fact that the federal minimum wage remains unchanged since 2009 can be shown as an example of this passiveness. With that being said, almost half of the US population is paid by the federal wage, which is way below the poverty line when we look at the annual earning of an employee (Formby, John, et al., 2). So in a word, an employee who earns federal minimum wage does not earn enough for his/her essential needs unless there are other supporting circumstances.
Let us think about a 16-year-old teenager who lives with his parents. He is currently working part-time and will probably go to college or later just move on to a better-paying job. Earning the federal minimum wage is well enough for him to provide himself with basic necessities such as entertainment. Now let us imagine that this person is not living with his parents. In this case, it is not likely that he is able to spend his money freely or even if he is able to provide himself with his necessities, as in the first scenario, they are not going to be the products or services of the best quality. One way or the other, he will have to give up on something very simple he really wants in the end, for not being able to afford it.
There are many people who have two jobs, completing the shift at noon and working until late hours in another job. This alone is already a time and energy-consuming situation, but unfortunately for some people, this is an opportunity not everybody gets due to the work schedules. Especially for students, having two jobs is not even a matter of discussion when freelance jobs are excluded. This problem is a huge obstacle for employees who are not offered to work full-time even if they want to. So in most cases, unless provided a second income channel, getting by with only federal minimum wage is a difficult task.
Now that we have mentioned why the federal minimum wage is considered inadequate subtly underlining the importance of an increase in it, it is critical to be able to see the two sides of the coin. There may also be negative outcomes of increasing the minimum wage. The most prominent one among them is that if there was an increase in the federal minimum wage, it would result in a reduction in jobs (Neumark, David 36). In other words, if employers had to pay more to employees, they would hire fewer people to avoid the extra cost, which gives rise to an increase in unemployment. However, considering low incomes prevent people from spending more, increasing the federal minimum wages will result in lifting approximately 4.5 people out of poverty (Cooper) and subsequently boosting the overall economy. Not to mention that increased wages will also lead to an increasing demand for more jobs. Sadly this is a fact largely glossed over by the people and a risk the employers avoid taking.
A higher federal minimum wage is not only advantageous for employees but also for employers. To start with, instead of looking for better-paying jobs, employees will work in their workplaces longer because they will be satisfied with their working conditions. What is the employer’s gain from this? They will not have to hire new people and train each of them every time. They will already have experienced employees working with them.
We have mentioned that raising the minimum wage will help people to keep up with inflation and boost consumer spending directly contributing to the economy. With that in mind, since people will be earning more, they will be less reliant on the governmental safety nets. Moreover, with lower unemployment, there will be an increase in tax revenues. So the increase is not only beneficial for the employees but also for employers and workers.
Apart from all of these statements, there are other opinions on the federal minimum wage. For instance, some people think it should not exist at all, and instead, the free market should govern all the wages believing they will naturally rise because the companies will be competing with each other. Furthermore, there are already some companies that support higher federal wages. For instance, companies such as Costco Wholesale and IKEA pay more than the federal minimum wage to their employees. However, this is also somewhat controversial.
On the one hand, it allows companies to pay more encouraging their employees to work more eagerly and productively. However, on the other hand, it may result in employers taking advantage of people who are ready to work for anything to support them. It may also result in employers who ask for cheap workers from outside the country. So, in the end, the federal minimum wage may be a dream amount for many workers. So the question of having a federal minimum wage is better or not, is a whole another discussion topic.
Minimum Wage Argument Essay: Conclusion
In conclusion, there are both pros and cons of increasing the federal minimum wage. However, we cannot ignore the fact that the benefits of an increase would well outweigh the wrong sides of it. It is not only better for the workers but also for the employers and the government. And it is fair to conclude that it is a big step towards enhancing the wealth and wellbeing of society.
Boschen, John, and Herschel Grossman. “The Federal Minimum Wage, Inflation, and Employment.” 1981, doi:10.3386/w0652.
Cooper, David. “Raising the Minimum Wage to $12 by 2020 Would Lift Wages for 35 Million American Workers.” Economic Policy Institute, www.epi.org/publication/raising-the-minimum-wage-to-12-by-2020-would-lift-wages-for-35-million-american-workers/.
Formby, John P., et al. “Minimum Wages, Poverty And Welfare.” Research on Economic Inequality Studies on Economic Well-Being: Essays in the Honor of John P. Formby, pp. 1–35., doi:10.1016/s1049-2585(04)12001-2.
Neumark, David, and William L. Wascher. “The Effects of Minimum Wages on Employment.” Minimum Wages, 2008, pp. 36–106.
Pollin, Robert. “ECONOMIC PROSPECTS: Making the Federal Minimum Wage a Living Wage.” New Labor Forum, vol. 16, no. 2, 2007, pp. 103–107., doi:10.1080/10957960701279306.