A bill in California was recently passed that would increase the minimum wage to $15 dollars a hour by 2022. This will be accomplished by slowly increasing the minimum wage every year, starting with $10.50 by 2017. The new policy is beneficial to every American, economically and socially. It can also help alleviate the harms of the income inequality and the growing class hierarchy.
A lot of people assume that the average minimum wage worker is some teenager trying to make some extra money during high school, but this is not true. According to the Economic Policy Institute, 88% of minimum wage workers are 20 or older and on average they earn half of their family’s income. Many people struggle with two or more jobs just to provide for themselves and/or their family and increasing the minimum wage can help aid these low income families financially. In fact, according to economist Arin Dube in his paper “Minimum Wage and the Distribution of Family Incomes,” higher minimum wages reduce the share of individuals with incomes below 50, 75, and 100 percent of the federal poverty line.This doesn’t solve for the vast majority of those living in poverty without any job at all, but it does provide for an overall net benefit for those low income families with jobs.
One of the main counterarguments against the increase in the minimum wage are the potential harms it can cause to the economy and the other workers. However, contrary to popular belief, employers actually benefit from a minimum wage hike because it increases the productivity of workers, puts more money in people’s pockets to spend, and raises employment and revenue. According to a study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research, stores that had to increase their wages actually increased their employment, so there are more jobs with higher wages available. Another myth is that it will cause inflation. Due to past research done by the Political Economic Research Institute, for every 10% spike in the minimum wage, you only pay an extra .1%. Meanwhile, inflation is already increasing every year regardless of what the minimum wage is, so your will cost of living will continue increasing and the hike in the minimum wage is not a major contributor to that inflation.
Other studies by the Economic Political Institute show that the increase in minimum wage doesn’t just help the poor, it helps everyone. A $15 minimum wage would directly affect 51 million workers and indirectly benefit an additional 30 million. An increase in the minimum wage can provide an overall net benefit for everyone involved in the economy and support individuals and families below the poverty line.
Basically, people deserve to live like people. No one should be working two to three full times jobs just to eat a meal everyday. For some, a minimum wage job is the best they can possibly do in order to provide for themselves and for their family. Not everyone is given the same opportunities when it comes to education and employment. This doesn’t mean that they should be prevented basic access to food, shelter, clothing, etc. Raising the minimum wage will help families across California with growing financial issues that prevent them from living a sustainable life. This policy, however, doesn’t solve the issue of the growing income inequality present in our current nation, but it is a step towards finding a solution to the problem. Hopefully, California’s minimum wage increase can influence many other states to reconsider their policies and set a precedent for a fairer distribution of wealth in America.