The Minimum Wage Problem

There has been a heavy history behind minimum wage in the United States. This has been an ongoing issue from 1938 until today and has made significant changes over the years. The minimum wage topic has been hot way before 1938, but today in this 21st century it’s very apparent that the cost of living has changed, and a large majority of Americans are struggling to make ends meet while still having a healthy social life. Typically, most families must have more than one worker in the family in this decade in order to keep a modern family afloat. Unlike the 60’s and 70’s where most families had the husbands working alone, and it was the norm to have the wife live the life of a homemaker; where the couples in our generation do not have the luxury of having a parent at home with the children. It is common to have individuals working one or more jobs to be able to at least afford rent, but the most common is having a large amount of Americans working paycheck to paycheck and there can be no foundation built being stuck in a cycle like this. Ultimately if a change is not done Americans will be stuck in a financial fixed lifestyle.

To begin, the history of minimum wage begins in Europe during the 1800’s to establish a set of rules to not only protect the workers, but businesses as well. It slowly crept to the United States due to similar problems occurring starting with the state of Massachusetts. The great depression made such an impact on the US history financially that it grasped the attention of the newly appointed President Roosevelt to make a change in minimum wage and allow Americans to be able to provide for their home again.

Today’s minimum wage amount varies between states. The minimum wage begins between 7.25- 15.00 per hour. After taxes, an individual would take home between 300-900 biweekly working under these wages. That bracket leaves no wiggle room for emergencies, vacation expenses, and the option of being picky on what bills to prioritize. Many people are responsible enough to understand that telling your child no to make sure the roof over their child’s head is paid, but then there are the dreamers who sacrifice a late fee to please their child with a gift which initially sets the individual back with no other financial support but that paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. No one should have to choose to either risk a late fee and buying a child bike for Christmas or sacrifice never having a well-deserved vacation because they can never afford it their whole life.

In addition, today’s economy has been in crisis for years for the middle class and lower Americans. The minimum wage issue has been stagnant for a decade now. The last action done towards containing this issue was the Fair Minimum Wage act in 2009 which entails the increase of minimum wage from 5.85 to 7.25. This is hardly enough for people to live and be able to support an essential lifestyle let alone a fulfilled life.

“Today, full-time employees earning the federal minimum annually pocket just $15,080, placing them well below the $23,850 poverty line—even for families of two. And minimum-wage earners with families of four fall almost $9,000 below the poverty line.” Bloomenthal.2020.

Statistics show that 1 in 2 Americans make less than 30,000 a year. Many individuals work with these wages under a part time position. Among working part time or full time positions these minimum wage workers also survive on government assistance. The assistance can range between cash assistance, food stamps, low income housing, and more. Normally people are paying several things for example, Daycare, Light bill, Rent, Car note, Cell phone bills, and these are just things that are nonnegotiable to be paying.

The cost of living has skyrocketed since the 80’s but the paychecks do not compensate for the change. The amount for rent ranges between 600 to a whopping 2000 for a one bedroom. People are succumbed to choosing between living in a dangerous neighborhood or living in a gated community. Under these circumstances it is difficult for an individual or a couple to be able to leave the life of living in an apartment and move on to purchasing a home with the heavy financial bag.

My biggest concern with the minimum wage crisis is how deep it hits homes and our children. Recently and quite often there is someone who commits suicide due to the financial hardships that occur. Many parents being that they have lived on a fixed income which cannot support them being able to afford to send their children to college leave them in compromising position with either little to no knowledge or unable to help the situation. Tens of thousands of students live under a highway, car, friend’s dorm with no help.

Minimum wage affects our society more than anyone thinks. Families cannot afford to feed and house their children trying to get an education abroad and the young adults attempting to take care of themselves have little to no job experience which puts them at a disadvantage in life. They find work only to work making minimum wage just to get by, but then sacrifice their education because they cannot keep up and must choose between their education or surviving. These are not the only range of people being recorded as suicidal. Adults are in more debt now than ever, however the article in the Clinical Psychology Review (Richardson T1, Elliott P, Roberts R.) explains a study done in 2013 suggesting that suicides were eight times more likely due to debt.

Although, many people earn degrees after high school, to avoid this financial normality many wonders are it even worth it? Studies have shown that students pay the ultimate price after graduation, because of the debt gifted after graduation, and the lack of work at a fair cost available to them to get out into the world and using their skills for a better life. When job hunting comes into act searching for a job with a certain mindset is 99% of the time the case. The mindset that this is the amount that I am looking to make nothing less, always more, and then the reality of our country’s minimum wage hits. Recently many states predominantly democratic states have increased the minimum wage for its employees. Companies such as Walmart, and Chic file have the understanding that having a living wage is what is needed for their employees; and after this big change many other big companies have followed suit. Many students and adults find their way to these companies to surprisingly make a career, but ultimately live comfortably.

In conclusion, I want to introduce the ideology of a minimum wage amount that can put people at an advantage in life. It’s been proven that there are many other countries that provide a financial hurdle in life for their citizens and I believe that with all the studies shown its evident that there needs to be a change in the minimum wage crisis. Many families figure out ways to beat the system by living in one home so that everyone is comfortable living all while being able to afford the life necessities. It is not the case for other families, some people must go without to afford to feed their children, and if this is not a cry for help to the government than I do not know what is.

Based on the article, “Can a Family Survive on the U.S. Minimum Wage? The author describes the pros and cons of having the minimum wage increased and ultimately companies are worried that doing an increase would put them in a position to have to hire fewer people, charge more for products and services to compensate for the change and put the economy at a disadvantage. While this is their argument the pros outweigh the cons. People should not be working for the same pay or for so little pay, but employers expect loyalty, and above and beyond from their subordinates. It shows no appreciation or regard for the employees. Is that what we are living for? Everyone is entitled to being paid a living wage not minimum wage.

References:

  1. Increasing the Minimum Wage Can Help the Working Poor. Holly Sklar. 2004.
  2. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/022615/can-family-survive-us-minimum-wage.asp