Medium: Raise the Wage!

By Dan Brook
Medium, Jan 21, 2020

Minimum wage workers are being hit hard by low pay and rising costs. It’s been over 80 years since the United States introduced a minimum wage and over 10 years since it became a measly $7.25, while the cost of living has increased 18% since 2009 (and an even larger 26% for food and a punishing 65% for education). The minimum wage is a poverty wage, not keeping up with the economy — let alone corporate profits, stock prices, worker productivity, and CEO salaries — and it continues to lose purchasing power due to inflation. ...

“When the minimum wage is too low”, according to Holly Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, “it not only mires workers in poverty, it undermines the consumer demand at the heart of our economy.” States with higher minimum wages tend to have higher economic growth. Minimum wage earners and other low-income workers have unmet needs and wants and would therefore spend their higher earnings quickly and locally. This benefits their families and increases our economy, which is 70% dependent on consumer spending. ...

I teach at a large public university, where too many of my working-class students of color experience hunger and homelessness. At San Jose State University, in Silicon Valley, over one in eight students (13.2%, or about 4,300 students) have experienced homelessness and about half of students are “sometimes skipping meals due to cost”. Higher minimum wages could make a dramatic difference in the day-to-day lives of students struggling to get a higher education by reducing food and housing insecurity. ...

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Copyright 2020 Dan Brook

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