The minimum wage is a hotly debated argument among democrats and republicans. Today many Americans feel that the minimum wage needs to be raised, according to the Hill a poll showed 74% of Americans want it to be. The reason being that a lot Americans work but are scraping by. The current minimum wage in the United states is set to 7.25 which is not enough in most states to give a single person enough money to live off of. To combat this some states such as California, Arizona, and Connecticut all have state minimum wage above the federal level. But just because their minimum wage is set above the federal level it does not mean that it is enough for an individual to live in a one bedroom one bath apartment. For instance The National Low Income Housing Coalition reported in California in order to rent a two bedroom rental home an individual would have to work 118 hours a week or make $30.92 an hour, Arizona 70 hours a week or $17.56 an hour, and Connecticut 98 hours a week or $24.72 an hour. This screams workers are underpaid for their labor, imagine having to work minimum of 60 hours a week just to be able to rent a 2 bedroom home; that is not even including having a family. With 74% of respondents wanting the minimum wage increased it is an important to look at why.
According to the Bureau of Labor statistics most individuals who are employed at the federal minimum wage level are teenagers, adults in their 20’s, most are in the food industry. Three — fifths of all workers paid at the minimum wage or below worked in restaurants and other food service industries. Proponents of raising the minimum wage want to help raise the standard of living for low income families and individuals; opposers of the minimum wage raise state the raising the minimum wage leads to high teen unemployment. The Atlantic reports a study that shows that raising the minimum wage by 10% only leads to a 0.1% decrease in teen employment, which authors of the study say has no meaningful effect on teenagers. If you think about it why does a teenager get a job? For one of two reasons. One because their parents do not make enough money to provide for the family, or because there is a new video game the teenager wants and their parents won’t give them money. In the first case the teenager is getting a job because the parents are paid enough to support the family. In the other it is the teenagers internal locus of control that propels them to work. But as we know from above in order for an individual to rent a two bedroom home in almost all states they would have to work more than 60 hours a week on the federal minimum wage level. So we can logically assume that the reason why most teenagers are entering the workforce is to help their family and not based off their own autonomy.
Democrats such as Bernie Sanders proposed a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. While initially during the elections Hillary, a brand name democrat, wanted to raise it to $12 an hour, Bernie Sanders and his wing of the democratic party pushed her stance to $15 an hour. The National Low Income Housing Coalition also reported on average one would have to make $21.21 an hour, that is currently $13.96 more than the federal minimum level and still $6.21 short of what is needed. Even the left wing “extremist” are not proposing what should be the minimum in a majority of states. Only 11 states could people survive making less than $15 an hour with the lowest being Arkansa with $13.72 an hour. The democrats goal to achieve a higher minimum wage is not enough for an individual to afford a two bedroom rental home.
The notable economist Milton Friedman, also a huge advocate of free market economics, responded to a minimum wage hike Obama suggested in 2013. He said “The minimum wage law is most properly described as a law saying that employers must discriminate against people who have low skills. That’s what the law says. The law says that here’s a man who has a skill that would justify a wage of $5 or $6 per hour (adjusted for today), but you may not employ him, it’s illegal, because if you employ him you must pay him $9 per hour. So what’s the result? To employ him at $9 per hour is to engage in charity.” and “What you are doing is to assure, that people whose skills, are not sufficient to justify that kind of a wage will be unemployed.” The right often use this justification for not increasing the minimum wage. That underskilled workers are not worth the minimum amount being talked about, and that they would then be unemployed. There is serious flaws in this logic, it is assuming that the uneducated youth are going to be displaced by the educated, also known as more skilled workers, for their job positions. That a person with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, psychology, or business is going to apply to the teenagers job of flipping burgers. And the employer is then going to hire the skilled worker over the unskilled worker in order to produce a better profit. Because a more skilled worker helps create more profits. But wait, unless you’re missing an arm flipping a burger is not a skill that has a huge learning curve that a teenager could not compete with the skilled worker with a bachelor’s degree.
The minimum wage should be increased to a standard of living that enough for an individual to afford a two bedroom apartment or even a one bedroom apartment. To do this the government could raise the minimum wage to match these standards then instead of revisiting this topic every couple decades, it can be tied to inflation. In the Hill’s article mentioned above 63% of both respondents agree this is the best solution to the problem. By doing this you eliminate the politics of raising the minimum wage while also keeping the standard of living adequate enough for an individual to provide for themselves.
Elis, N. (2017, June 01). Poll: Bipartisan majority supports raising minimum wage. Retrieved October 20, 2017
Out Of Reach. (n.d.). Retrieved October 20, 2017
Characteristics of minimum wage workers, 2016 : BLS Reports. (2017, April). Retrieved October 20, 2017
Weissmann, J. (2013, December 16). Should We Raise the Minimum Wage? 11 Questions and Answers. Retrieved October 20, 2017, from
Sanders, Murray Announce $15 Minimum Wage Bill. (2017, April 26). Retrieved October 20, 2017
Milton Friedman responds to President Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage, the most ‘anti-black law in the land’. Retrieved October 20, 2017