Minimum Wage. Two simple words that have become anything but as political battle lines have been drawn and media attention grows by the day. So what’s the issue? Some would argue the very economy is at stake over $3 per hour.
First things first, let’s be clear on what the debate really centers on. Currently the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. However, states have the right to set their own minimum wages, and many do. 19 states currently have minimum wages higher than the federally mandated $7.25. Two states even have a minimum wage lower than the federal level, however in these states the employee is still entitled to the federal minimum – the lower wage is largely a political statement.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama asked Congress to raise the federal minimum by almost $3.00 to $10.10 per hour. This has proven to be quite the controversial position. Democrats have proposed a bill that would raise minimum wage to the $10.10 per hour then increase each year along with the cost of living, while Republicans are staunchly opposed to such an action. So let’s break down both sides of the argument.
For! Those in favor of raising the minimum wage are arguing that the current $7.25 per hour minimum does not constitute a living wage. Full time workers earning the federal minimum wage will earn $15,080 per year – below the federal poverty line for a two person household. Furthermore, they believe that the boost in earnings would in in fact, boost the economy by giving a portion of the population increased spending power and reducing the need for federal aid programs such as Welfare.
Against! In response, those against raising the federal minimum wage maintain that forcing employers to increase their payroll spending will be the death of many small businesses leading to even higher unemployment rates. They argue that it would result in an increased cost of goods which would also be devastating to our still unsteady economy.
So who’s right and who’s being greedy? Economists tell us there is no easy answer. Both sides of the debate have studies to back their claims. Either way, the debate surrounding minimum wage doesn’t look to be going anywhere anytime soon. And without a clear cut answer, proponents on both sides of the debate have turned the media in order to garner public support.
Republican pundits like Rush Limbaugh emphasize the need for a minimum wage that is based on a “fair market rate,” and believe that $7.25 is just that. Political cartoons illustrate the higher prices and increased layoffs they believe would follow a wage hike.
Meanwhile the left uses the humor of political shows such as The Daily Show and Colbert Report to rally others to their cause. Funny or Die has even joined the debate by releasing a video with Kristen Bell of the recent Disney hit Frozen as another Disney icon, Mary Poppins, quitting her nanny position due to the lack of a “living wage.”
Whichever side of the battle lines you stand with, employers and employees are alike in one crucial way – we all have to follow the story and wait to see how it ends. In the meantime, if you have any questions on minimum wage and its impact, contact The Simmons Group at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.