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Raising the Minimum Wage

by Countable | 1.8.18

What’s the story?

Since the Fight for $15 campaign began in 2012, aimed at raising the minimum wage for fast food workers to $15 per hour, the subject of the minimum wage has garnered much attention and debate. Here’s a (very) brief history of the minimum wage and a picture of where things are around the U.S. as of Jan 1, 2018.

The federal minimum wage is the lowest possible rate that employers can pay employees. It was first established in 1938, at $0.25 per hour. It has been raised 22 times since then, the last time being in 2009 to $7.25 per hour.

It is generally accepted that the minimum wage rate has not kept pace with inflation. With two or more people in a household where only one is a wage earner (the reality for many single parents), you cannot work a full-time, minimum wage job and stay above the federal poverty level.

States can establish higher minimum wage rates, and employers must meet the state-mandated rate even if it is higher than the federal rate. In the last five years many states have raised their minimum wage. In 2018, 18 states began the year with higher minimum wages. All together, 29 states have higher minimum wages than the federal standard.

Yet, some states have pushed back against cities and counties who have passed minimum wage standards higher than the state minimum with "preemption laws". 27 states now have preemption laws on their books, which prohibit cities or counties from setting minimum wage rates higher than state levels.

Some of the arguments for increasing the federal minimum wage include: an increase in the minimum wage raises the standard of living for impoverished workers; studies show graduated increases in the minimum wage have a low impact on unemployment; additional income would be spent by consumers and would ripple through the economy; government expenses for social programs aimed at the poor would potentially be reduced, resulting in slightly lower taxes for other Americans.

Some of the arguments for not increasing the federal minimum wage include: an increase to the minimum wage could result in layoffs or slower hiring; an increase to the minimum wage would provide an incentive for employers to invest in automation rather than human resources; prices might be increased to offset higher labor costs; wages for higher paid workers might be suppressed, and salary increases might be lower for those not impacted by a higher minimum wage.

What do you think?

Should the federal minimum wage be raised? Why or why not?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

Countable

Written by Countable

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(60)
  • Lori
    01/08/2018
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    We need to raise the minimum wage to something a full time worker could actually live on, otherwise we are just subsidizing places like Walmart and McDonalds as they create a welfare dependent population that we have to support with our taxes.

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  • Troy
    01/08/2018
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    Let supply and demand justify wage increases. When the government raises wages every thing else goes up also. That is the reason a pickup truck costs as much as a nice home used to.

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  • Mark
    01/09/2018
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    The minimum wage reached its inflation adjusted highest point in 1968. Let that sink in. CEOs and executives are paying themselves more than ever whilst everyday working Americans cannot make ends meet with full time employment. Working class Americans should not be forced to obtain more than one full time position to survive in the wealthiest country in the history of the world.

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  • Saoirse
    01/08/2018
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    Imagine you are deep into poverty. Your life has gone down in the dumps from lack of funds. This is what will occur with many people if the minimum wage is not raised. I mean, really: do we care about paying a couple bucks more for something, or giving people decent lives? Lives where they can thrive and flourish instead of falter? Our existence isn’t so that we can better ourselves. It’s so we can better humanity as a whole. The first step in moving forward as a society is getting rid of poverty, and raising the minimum wage is a crucial step towards this goal.

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  • Keith
    01/08/2018
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    I think the reason so many are against the idea of a living wage, is that they see some professions as undeserving of one. The common meme on social media is a side-by-side of an EMS worker and a fast food worker, with the loaded question: “The one on the right just finished an 18 hour shift, and lost his patient, and only gets paid X amount per hour. The guy on the left wants $15 just to flip burgers.” In my experience, even the EMS worker depends on fast food workers to prepare their meal, so why are we insulting their means of earning a living? It’s not the responsibility of the job that determines how much a person should earn, it is the need for survival. It’s time to stop treating those receiving minimum wage as poor and lazy people looking for a handout. Instead, they are human beings trying to make ends meet in an economy that makes that very difficult. Raise the wage.

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  • Gerald
    01/08/2018
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    Without unions, the labor in this country is at the mercy of corporations to be given increases. In the past, the middle class was created through unskilled workers demanding corporate profits be shared. Yes, an auto worker could send his kids to college, buy a house, take vacations, drive a car not held together by duct tape, and retire on a pension. Today, this is almost unattainable to the high school graduate. We have made college unaffordable and only through massive debt can anyone attend. Corporations just got a trillion dollars in tax relief and yet we fear if the minimum wage is raised we will pay more for a burger. Why didn’t the republicans put the minimum wage as part of their tax plan? It would have forced corporations to boost the low wage earners standard of living. The “bonus” is a PR scam, limited in scope, and dwarfed by their profits. Give the people on the bottom a chance to live. Read a book called “Nickel and Dimed” to understand what it is like.

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  • Miles
    01/08/2018
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    Our federal minimum wage needs to be raised. Please stop the exploitation of poor laborers and hold businesses accountable for how they treat their labor force.

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  • Alan
    01/08/2018
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    We shouldn’t have a minimum wage. As you can see reducing taxes, regulations and burdens on company’s/ businesses, they set a higher pay themselves. After the tax bill passed 18 Company’s/businesses have increased their own minimum wage and plan to give out bonuses. All because of less regulation. Liberals don’t get this. They think it’s best to have more regulation.

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  • Leon
    01/08/2018
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    Simple economics- raising minimum wage just drives other costs higher and reduces the available jobs. Let growth stimulate this instead and employers will pay more due to competition s mandates.

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  • Jim2423
    01/08/2018
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    Fast food used to be for high school kids and at home moms to earn extra money. Not a career occupation. Let the economy rule. If fast food restaurants start making millions then they will increase wages. But no it was never intended to be a permanent occupation. Plenty of trades and skilled jobs out there that pay good wages and they are career jobs.

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  • Timothy
    01/09/2018
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    Sounds easy to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr but it’s not. Let’s face a basic fact: an adult doing a job a twelve-year-old could do (eg, pressing buttons on a cash register in McDonalds) does not deserve that much pay. And consider all the people who have worked their way up from minimum wage to $15/hr or so. Are they to be content with suddenly making minimum wage again? Nope. Salaries will have to rise for almost everyone to be fair. Ben Shapiro says it best: to avoid poverty, finish high school, get a job, and don’t have children before you’re married. You want more money? Get more skills than bagging burgers or wiping down vehicles at the car wash. If you screwed up, got little education even though it was available to you for free, made some babies that you’re raising by yourself, and aren’t trying to better your situation, why do you think you’re worth more than $7.25? Sorry princess, you’re not.

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  • Cndrla
    01/08/2018
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    If minimum wage had kept up with inflation since 1950, it would be closer to $21 an hour. Imagine a working livable wage. The Dems support raising wages, economist argue if the masses make more money they spend more $, raising all boats. States who have raised minimum wages to 15$ will tell you it increased everyone’s bottom line. The world did not end. Business did not close. However the lying cheating Republicans continue fear mongering those who can least afford it, and those who can least afford it continue to vote for the Republicans and against their own interest. 🙄

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  • Loretta
    01/08/2018
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    All workers should be able to have a living wage. How else can they afford the higher co-pays on the health insurance that they don't have?

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  • Nathaniel
    01/09/2018
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    The problem with Troy’s comment is that the laws of supply and demand have not been working as predicted for some time bow. Wages have been stagnant for over a decade, in spite of market forces saying they should be going up. It hypothesized that this is due to the roles of globalization and automation. With this economic climate, what do consumers have to hope for, other than a mandated wage increase? The only conceivable alternative is universal basic income, which is such a radical change, that we have no idea how it could play out. Could be utopia, could be dystopia. There isn’t an easy answer here, and yelling “the market will fix itself” ignores the fact that it hasn’t done so for longer than I have been a voting adult.

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  • Anna
    01/10/2018
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    all profit is unpaid labor, of course minimum wage needs to be increased. profits are the result of wage theft.

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  • Colin
    01/09/2018
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    A lot of our conservative friends have a very sophomoric understanding of economics. Yes, an extremely high minimum wage would create unemployment and inflation. However, 15 dollars an hour is relatively modest and recent and empirical examples, in certain States and cities, show that minimum wage increases do, indeed, improve life for low income workers.

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  • R. ben
    01/08/2018
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    No no no! Supply and demand must boost wages! If the government boost the wages artificially it resultes in less jobs for everyone. Come on people!

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  • BeStrong
    01/09/2018
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    In ‘68 there were 1000 McDonalds, today there are 37,000. Their workforce is no longer high school kids, but adults. As we have migrated, as a culture, to fit the Walmart/McD’s cheap and fast model, we have killed unions and have not issued an adequate COL increase since 1968, even as record profits are reported and billionaires are further enriched off of the backs of the minimum wage earners. Do the right thing, stop the growth of this poverty model and the reinforcing of our class structure. This is not a ‘supply/demand’ issue, it’s a classist issue. Pass a livable minimum wage.

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  • Andy1
    01/08/2018
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    $15+ now! The money is there, maybe a ceo or two will have to make less to pay for it, but it’s there. Executive pay should be capped relative to the lowest paid employees. America has a high quality workforce, it high time we make corporations pay their workers what they deserve.

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  • Lexpost
    01/08/2018
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    To those who think the ‘market’ is all knowing and brutally fair, that only works if both sides are knowledgeable and neither side is powerful enough to force a deal. If you make a good living and think you’re indispensable, wake up, there is always somebody who will do your job cheaper than you, and just as well as you do it.

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