Minimum Wage Needs to Go Up

Quetzalcoatl Dalupan, Staff Writer

People are not being paid enough and have not been for years. All across America, rampant poverty and consistently low wages make the everyday task of putting food on the table a major trial.

CBSnews states that inflation is “surging at the fastest pace in 40 years.” Companies and even consumers tend to blame higher wages for increasing prices in everyday life. However, according to Investopedia, “The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and has not been increased since 2009.” This creates a huge issue for anyone living paycheck to paycheck. The debate on whether or not to raise the federal minimum wage has raged on for years, and even though there is a clear answer, many opponents have voiced arguments against doing so.

One of the most often used arguments is the idea that if wages rise, so will prices on goods and services. Though at first glance, it seems to make sense, CBSnews reports that; “it has long been clear that the relationship between what workers earn and what consumers pay has been tenuous at best.” Justifying the idea that people being paid more will cause the cost of things to rise is unempathetic at least and downright cruel at most. Many people in America are living in poverty, states that “the official poverty rate in 2020 was 11.4 percent.” That was about 37 million people! Wanting these people to stay in poverty simply because it would supposedly raise the prices on goods and services (it doesn’t) is horrible.

In order to put into words just how severely low the federal minimum wage is, some simple math is needed. According to Upwardi, the average monthly cost of living in America is $5,172. Keep in mind that is the average. If we multiply that by 12 to get the average yearly cost in America, we get $62,064. However, the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Multiply that by the typical 40 hours spent working per week and you get $290. Multiply that by the 52 weeks in a year (with no time off of any kind) and you get a measly $15,080 in a year of working for anyone working full time on minimum wage. Though the number may change dependent upon your state’s minimum wage, the fact still stands that anyone living on the federal minimum wage quite literally cannot pay the average living cost in America. Even in the near impossible chance that you were to work 80 hours in one week and still not take any time off, you’d only be making $30,160 a year, not even half of the average yearly cost. In the situation that’s slowly becoming more and more common of living with a roommate, if the two of you were to work on federal minimum wage 80 hours a week with no time off the entire year, you’d only make $60,320. Two people working 80 hours a week cannot contribute enough money to pay for the average living cost.

But if the minimum federal wage is so bad, the question of why it has not been raised arises. For that, TheHill reports that “businesses that employ low-wage workers want to keep wages low, and they possess considerable power to shape congressional priorities and, ultimately, policy outcomes. In contrast, ordinary American workers who would benefit from a minimum wage increase exercise little political influence. This power imbalance is why we still have no action on the minimum wage.” Simply put, businesses have more power over the individual, and it’s in their best interest to keep wages low.

The biggest problem of the federal minimum wage being so low is how high it costs to live in the modern day. WhiteHouse.Gov states, “Between 1990 and 2019, the overall cost of living rose by 74 percent based on the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index and by 90 percent based on the Consumer Price Index retroactive series.” Despite prices going up, inflation rising and the cost of living going up, the debate on whether or not the federal minimum wage should go up rages on as people starve to death in the same country that has a rampant obesity problem.

Though there is hope for the future, the snail’s pace congress works at threatens the effectiveness of almost any solution. You may have heard of the idea to raise minimum wage from $7.25 to $15. Investopedia reports on it by stating, “A 2019 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report projected a significant improvement in the standard of living for at least 17 million people, assuming a minimum hourly wage of $15 by 2025.” But by 2025, $15 will likely just be the new 7.25. People deserve better, especially those working hard just to not starve in their own homes.