In late September, California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that will raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour from the current $8 an hour over the course of three years, according to an Associated Press article entitled “California: Minimum Wage Will Rise.”
Also, the Obama administration and many Democrats in Congress are looking to raise the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $9 an hour, according to a New York Times article entitled “Living on Minimum Wage.”
However, the majority of Republicans in Congress disagree with this advancement. They claim that increasing the minimum wage will reduce the number of employees hired by companies, meaning that fewer people will have jobs at all.
Their reasoning is that it’s better to have more people with less money than fewer people with more money.
I must admit that I would agree with them. If the minimum wage now wasn’t so dreadfully low, that is.
Meet Joe, a burger flipper who works for the federal minimum wage. Joe is extremely lucky and has a full-time job flippin’ burgers. That means a 10-hour workday.
Now, let’s do the math. Currently, one hour on the job earns a minimum wage worker $7.25. That means Joe gets $72.50 a day. In a five-day workweek that’s $362.50 earned.
In a month? $1,450.
A year? $17,400.
Now let’s talk expenses. It costs about $10 to get an OK meal at Taco Bell, and Joe has a fairly small appetite. So, multiply by three, and that’s $30 for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just to be nice, I’m going to pretend that Joe isn’t going to develop diabetes and have a heart attack at the age of 40, and therefore have to pay all of the subsequent medical bills. But Joe does have to get up pretty early in the morning, so that’s another $5 for coffee throughout the day, leaving us with $35 in food expenses for one day.
In one week, that’s $245. In one month? $980.
Subtract this from what Joe earns in a month, and he’s left with $470 to pay his rent.
Needless to say, I don’t think Joe will be buying a Ferrari any time soon. He’s probably not even going to get a chance to eat anywhere more expensive than Taco Bell or Starbucks.
Oh, and he’s going to have to walk to work every day because gas or the bus are out of the question.
I feel pretty sorry for Joe, but just imagine what it must be like to be a college student who can’t work full-time on top of having to pay tuition.
That’s the world my peers and I will be entering in the next couple of years. That situation is pretty darn scary, especially if you want to go to a top-notch college.
Granted, in California the minimum wage will be raised to $10. But, that’s not effective until 2016.
And even then a person working full-time on that salary will make only $2,000 a month, which still doesn’t provide much of an income cushion at all.
Some politicians may say that it’s possible to live on minimum wage, but they aren’t the ones who have to do it.
No one deserves to live as Joe does, without a single dollar to spare.
Yes, a few people might lose their jobs if the minimum wage is raised (although this hasn’t been observed in any recent studies).
But at least those who do have jobs will be able to live off of their salaries.