Debate: Raising the Minimum Wage

Minimum wage in the United States needs to be raised. It is not possible to live on the monthly income a minimum wage job provides.

Workers of any age can find themselves stuck working a minimum wage job: struggling college students, elderly people trying to scrape by, parents who simply have no other option. Any person who is responsible for paying for their own living expenses cannot work only a minimum wage job and live a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle. Add in paying for your children’s and other family members’ needs and it becomes an impossible task.

Currently, the federal minimum wage in the United States is only $7.25; each state must pay its workers that salary, or choose to have a higher state minimum wage law. Utah is one of 16 states that follows the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

 According to the University of California, Davis, the average yearly income for a job paying $7.25 is $15,080. This is just a little over $1,000 per month. “For a family of three…a full time worker supporting this household alone will have to earn $12.78 hourly working 40 hours each week.” Clearly, even for small families, minimum wage is not sufficient.

Fortunately, there has been a growing discussion around the country about passing a new minimum wage law. Some states already have higher minimum wage laws. Massachusetts and Washington have the highest, with the lowest wage being eleven dollars per hour. On October 2nd, Amazon set a new minimum pay of fifteen dollars per hour for their employees in the United States. This is more than double the current federal minimum wage in the United States. This was an important decision because Amazon is the second largest employer in the nation. Other large companies may feel pressured into matching Amazon.  

Not everybody agrees that a change in minimum wage needs to happen. Opponents of raising the wage laws say that raising the minimum wage causes the cost of consumer goods to rise. However, a 2017 University of Washington study found that the price of goods in Seattle did not change following the city’s move to a $15 minimum wage.

Bingham students supported the idea that minimum wage should be raised. In a survey of 143 students, 137 said that they feel minimum wage in the United States should be raised above $7.25. One of these students, Bingham senior Claudia Pamplin, said, “Minimum wage should be raised because everything is getting more expensive. It is hard for teenagers to pay for gas in their cars when they make minimum wage.”

Clearly, minimum wage in the United States cannot stay at $7.25. It is not sustainable for anybody who has to pay for their own costs of living. It is definitely past time for a change to the Utah minimum wage law, and the federal minimum wage in the United States.