Raising the Federal Minimum Wage in the U.S.

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What has this country come to? Since the institution of the minimum wage, it has varied, rising from the lowest minimum wage in our history, 1948’s minimum wage of $3.92 in current U.S. dollars to the highest minimum wage in our history, 1968’s minimum wage of $10.86 in current U.S. dollars. But since then, it has only been dropping. As of 2018, the minimum wage was $7.25, $3.61 lower than it was 50 years ago. Assuming the average amount worked per week in a full time, minimum wage job is 40 hours, workers would get $7508.80 more annually 50 years ago than now. Our economy has only been growing, but then why is the minimum wage stagnant, and even dropping? The federal minimum wage in the U.S. should be changed to $15/hour or more, for the good of the people. Some say that raising the minimum wage wouldn’t really change anything, that employers would just fire employees to make up for the extra amount they are paying them. Though, through research, studies have found this just isn’t true. It is shown that raising minimum wage increases firing rates in some companies, but in an equal number, fills in vacancies, attracting new workers through the higher wage, and reduces turnover with the high wage as well. Even though the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has increased by 12.524 trillion current U.S. dollars since 1968, and an average 250.48 billion current U.S. dollars per year, the minimum wage is still going down.  Even with 1968 minimum wage, the wage for a working family of 2 adults and 2 children will still be considered in poverty judged by the amount of money they earned annually. This is if only 1 family member works, and they work a 40-hour week for 50 weeks each year. As the minimum wage has dropped, the poverty threshold has only risen, causing the amount of people in poverty to rise drastically. In the example above, but with a 2018 minimum wage, the family will only be at 60% of the poverty level after a year. That’s low enough that even if both parents were working in this situation, the family would barely have enough money to be over the poverty threshold, only at 120% of the threshold. Since the minimum wage has been instituted, all people being paid in it have been poor, even 80 years after its creation. Minimum wage jobs make up a large portion of jobs in the U.S., 3.3% of all workers in the country. This treatment may have continued for the past 80 years, but it will stop now. All minimum wage workers must get paid more, paid enough to eat, paid enough to care for a child, paid enough to pay their mortgage. Workers must get paid enough to do all of these things, and more. The government may have been stalling, or even openly opposing the idea, but things must change for the good of this country and the people inside it. The minimum wage must be raised to a livable standard, and soon. Or else America’s poor will keep suffering for years to come, while the rich hoard their wealth. All of these things must change for this country’s sake, or the 41 million people living in poverty will stay that way, with more to come.

 



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