Should the Government Raise the Minimum Wage?

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Raising the minimum wage is a popular topic right now. It is the minimum hourly wage an employer can pay an employee for work. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. President Obama proposed it be increased from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour but the Senate’s plan to vote on a minimum wage increase has been pushed back several times. Over the years while I was a cashier at Popeye’s, the minimum wage increased from $7.25 to $8.25. And even though it went up one dollar I still believe it should be higher.

      Increasing the minimum wage nationwide will increase earnings for millions of workers and boost the bottom lines of businesses across the country. Today the real value of the minimum wage has fallen by nearly one third since its peak in 1968. As a result, a full-time minimum wage worker makes $14,500 a year which leads to many families struggling to make ends meet. It is no longer just teens making minimum wage. Now more than half of the workers earning under $10.10 an hour are forced to support themselves on that as their primary income.

      Raising the minimum wage also helps businesses by giving customers more spending money. From my experience with working in a fast food establishment, I know being paid $7.25 an hour is tough. Every two weeks I would earn $300 or less. After paying for my phone bill, buying groceries, and purchasing gas just to get to and from work I would only have enough money to add to my savings for school. That means no shopping money and not being able to enjoy myself at a nice restaurant. Increasing the minimum wage means earning more money and since many of those workers will turn around and spend that money, this would be a boost for the economy.

      A higher minimum wage also reduces the need for the reliance on government and nonprofit subsidies and services. People would no longer qualify for food stamps, which means the government saves money. This would help 3.5 million Americans get off of food stamps. The government would save $46 billion over 10 years in spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as well. People would earn enough money to stay grounded on their own if the minimum wage is increased.  

      At times when working in fast food restaurants you have rude customers or customers who ask for a lot and make it impossible not to catch an attitude with them. Then the co-workers aren’t nice and the managers seem to enjoy making your job more complicated than it should be. Plus, being on your feet for hours and working in the heat isn’t worth it. As an employee of Popeye’s there were plenty of times I wanted to quit. It wasn’t because of the hours but because my checks weren’t matching the hard work I dedicated to being a cashier. Not being able to enjoy my days off because I was too tired to do anything is also a downfall with working at fast food places. There have been plenty of times where I was off for the day but I couldn’t do anything but sleep. Working like that had me too tired to do anything.

      Increasing the minimum wage is a great idea. It increases the standard of living of workers, reduces poverty and inequality, boosts morale and forces businesses to be more efficient. It gives the employees more money to provide for their families as well as a little extra to treat themselves to a nice dinner. It even helps with small businesses. Raising the minimum wage would be a tremendous help. Not just to teenagers and college students but to the hard working parents as well. This is an issue that should be decided on immediately.

Christina Murry is a Junior Broadcast/Mass Communications major from Camden, Mississippi. She will be a staff writer for The Campus Chronicle for the 2016-2017 school year.

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