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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Increase in minimum wage increases public good

    It’s long hours of flipping burgers, stocking shelves, cleaning, operating a cash register and any number of other tasks that make up a minimum-wage job.

    It’s hard work, made harder by other issues that are often present, such as the struggle to balance work and school, or work and family. Job stress is only made worse since, beyond the workload, workers are left with a increasing concern that each paycheck seems so small.

    This concern is constant from when I wake up, knowing that if I forget to pack a lunch, an hour of pay is gone. If I need to get coffee or a bottle of water, that’s 30 minutes gone. A date with my fiancé? That can cost a whole day of work or more.

    In the past year, an increasing number of organizations and workers have made minimum wage a political issue in D.C. President Barack Obama argued for an increase in the federal minimum wage and issued an executive order to increase the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 per hour, starting in 2015.

    So, what about the rest of us? Why hasn’t the federal minimum wage been increased to keep up with the cost of living in this country?

    The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. In Arizona, we’re lucky and get slightly more, at $7.90.

    Currently, Arizona and 20 other states have a minimum wage above the federal level, but only two states, Oregon and Washington, come within $1 of the proposed wage increase. In the other 18, wages are just pennies above the standard minimum wage.

    People against an increase argue that a minimum wage hurts the economy. They say it prevents people from getting jobs they could get by underbidding others and that it will hurt companies’ profits having to pay such high wages to employees.

    As a person working a minimum wage job, these arguments — and the whole attitude against raising the minimum wage — are maddening.

    The idea that people are limited in choosing work because they’d be willing to work for below a minimum wage is just bad logic. If someone is going to work, shouldn’t it be for an amount they can live on?

    Furthermore, according to the Washington Post this week, raising the minimum wage would lower food stamp spending by $4.6 billion and bring 900,000 people out of poverty.

    If raising the minimum wage will bring that many people out of poverty, it isn’t hard to assume that most people can’t work for less than the minimum wage and the ones that can won’t.

    Additionally, while increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would cut into company profits, it wouldn’t hurt them much.

    Ezra Klein of the Washington Post wrote an article showing that corporate profits are on the rise, while the share of profits going to employees is dropping.

    For many companies, increasing the minimum wage would not make them file for bankruptcy. It would only increase workers’ happiness and have a positive effect on the economy, because workers would be more comfortable in their financial situation.

    Despite what some who are against raising the minimum wage may argue, living comfortably is not living in excess.

    A guaranteed $10.10 an hour wouldn’t put me high on the hog and let me start a Rolex collection. Instead, it will let me, and many like me, do a little better and alleviate some of the worry that we won’t make ends meet.

    I am grateful for my job. It helps me with bills and takes some of my financial burden off of my parents. However, while it can currently cover my bills and other expenses, I wouldn’t feel stable without my parents’ financial backing. I know that an increase in the minimum wage for me, my family and many others would allow us that little extra freedom to save while we work, to let our parents off the hook, to spend more. Surely everyone, businesses included, will be happier with that arrangement.

    — Eric Klump is a journalism senior. Follow him @ericklump.

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