Maximizing the Minimum Wage

Most of us probably got our first job when we were 16 or 18 years old in either the retail or food industry. Some of us even now, while in college, still work in those low-wage industries.

As college students we tend to see these jobs as temporary. We don’t necessarily imagine making a living out of $8.00 an hour for the rest of our lives.

However, there are those people that see low-wage jobs as their permanent paycheck. They see that $8.00 an hour as their everyday living. They are the ones that will benefit the most if the minimum wage is increased.

The Democratic Party has proposed to raise the current minimum wage from $8 per hour to $10.10 per hour. That $2.10 difference can increase the earnings of 16.5 million people and can take 900,000 people above the poverty threshold, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate.

With the constant increase in living, families could use the increase to pay for their rent, eat a decent meal, and have some family fun. Surely, it would reduce their worries.

But as it is with all, there is a trade-off, a price to be paid. It is estimated that 500,000 workers would be unemployed because of this increase, according to the CBO.

Large corporations and small businesses could cut the number of employees to make up for the increase in payroll.

With the current unemployment rate being 6.6 percent, which is much lower than it was a year ago when it 7.9 percent, there is fear that those numbers may shift. If anything, people want more jobs to be created, but an increase in minimum may threaten that.

That is certainly something to worry about because it could possible hurt many families just as it helps others.

Then there is also the issue of those who have dedicated many years of their lives working for companies that have only increased their earnings from $8 dollars to $9.50. For them an increase could mean just an increment of a few cents, yet they’ve dedicated more time to the company than newcomers, who would then get paid as much as them.

Does it seem fair for those who’ve spent five years of their life in the company to be paid just as much as someone who has only worked there a week? No, it certainly does not.

But it also does not seem right that the minimum wage remain unchangeable while everything from housing, food, gasoline and schooling keeps on increasing.

By increasing minimum wage there will certainly be objections and negative outcomes. But for the greater good it is something worth doing.

An increase would have its rocky moments, but eventually like all things it would stabilize itself.

Companies and businesses have to realize that they need employees. They need happy employees who won’t be worrying about their financial struggles. They need employees who won’t be overworked because of a cut in the number of employees.

A satisfied employee is able to provide a customer with a satisfactory experience. Businesses need great customer experience because unsatisfying customer service pushes people away, and in turn they lose more.

An increase in the minimum wage would help so many, so it is worth the trade-off.

Changes need to happen otherwise this country will not continue to prosper. If it has to begin with $1 or $2, then so be it. We’ve risked more before so why not do the same now.

 

Gricel Garcia is a third-year literary journalism major and can be reached at gricelg@uci.edu