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Happy Spring Quarter, y’all! The skies are blue, the birds are chirping (yes, it is always like this in Santa Barbara, but other cities do have distinct seasons, remember?) and I’m here, as usual, writing to ruin your happiness with a lovely update on current affairs, specifically the minimum wage.
Right now, my baby boy Barack is in Michigan pushing for the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 to rise to $10.10. Here in California, we are lucky, and our minimum wage is $8.00; we are among the 19 states that have set their own, raised minimum wages. Washington is up to $9.19. They really are on the right track lately…
But the rest of the country is suffering, especially us millennials. 50.6 percent of the American workforces who are working at or below the federal minimum wage are in the 16-24-age bracket. That’s 3.55 million workers. So at $7.25 an hour, someone who is working full time at 40 hours a week would make a yearly salary of $15,080 … assuming that they work every week and never miss a single day for the whole year, not accounting for taxes or federal holidays. $15,080 is nowhere near a living wage, and so it should come as no surprise that 24 percent of those earning minimum wage are living at or below the poverty line.
Looking at the history of the federal minimum wage, things are very dismal. In 1968, the federal minimum wage was $1.60. If we apply inflation rates to that number, that works out to about $10.70 in 2013. That’s more than three dollars more than our current minimum wage and this fiscal disparity has been keeping people in poverty for decades. What does it mean that our country’s minimum wage peaked over 40 years ago? Kinda seems like we’re going downhill to me. Not to mention the fact that our current federal minimum wage was set five years ago in 2009, and contrary to pretty much every other federal benchmark, minimum wage is not updated for inflation.
Currently, the biggest opposition to raising the federal minimum wage is the theory that it will negatively affect the economy, but countless studies have proved just the opposite. A 2010 study by economists at the University of Massachusetts, University of North Carolina and University of California compared employment data from countries neighboring the United States and found that minimum wage increases did not cost jobs, even during times of high-unemployment and periods of recession.
The truth is that during a struggling economy, raising the minimum wage will financially benefit everyone, except those in the one percent, who are already doing just dandy. Raising the minimum wage will increase consumer spending because those living paycheck-to-paycheck won’t be so strapped for cash, and everyone knows that increasing consumer spending is the key to stimulating the economy. We need to realize that it isn’t coincidental that the guys shouting the loudest about how terrible it would be to raise the minimum wage are the same dudes that would personally take a hit if they had to pay their workers fairly.
Mckinley Krongaus is an extremely loud human (if you didn’t know) and she could easily outshout that one percent.