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$15 minimum wage debate: what to know
Last updated: July 1, 2022
Elyssa Duncan
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$15 minimum wage debate: what to know
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One of the most significant labor movements, Fight for $15, has been gaining traction recently after raising the federal minimum wage was taken out of the last stimulus package.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, a rate that has not been raised since 2009.

When looking at the larger picture, like who benefits from a national minimum wage increase, how it compares with inflation, and its long-term effects - it's may seem clear that an increase on the national level is far overdue.

But, a closer look at the debate around raising the minimum wage reveals how there may be equally appealing arguments against it. Here's what you need to know about the minimum wage debate.

Where did the concept of minimum wage start?

The first state-level minimum wage law was passed in 1912 by the state of Massachusetts. Over the next two decades, other states followed suit until a Supreme Court case called Adkins v. Children's Hospital of D.C. ruled that a minimum wage violated worker and employer rights to liberty of contacts under the Fifth Amendment.

It wasn't until 1938 where under Franklin D. Roosevelt, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act. The pay rate was set at $0.25 per hour (about $4 per hour in today's currency.)

Since then, Congress has raised the minimum wage 22 times, bringing it to the current state of $7.25 per hour. However, many people agree that another raise is needed ASAP.

"I am for the raise, it needed to be at least $15 a long time ago. The cost of living is up. People need to able to sustain, but they can not." - Maxanne Hammond-Watt, Jobcase Member

States and cities have the right to set their own minimum wage standards.

The minimum wage debate in 2021

This discussion is ongoing, and it's complex. While we don't have every key point listed, this article's purpose is to spark conversation, not express personal opinions. So we are going to cover some main thoughts expressed from each side of this debate.

Key points for those in favor of raising the minimum wage (pro)

Since the beginning of 2021, 20 states have raised the minimum wage, and many fast-food and restaurant giants, such as Amazon, McDonald's, and Target have committed to paying employee's at least $15 per hour. But the fight continues for higher pay and labor rights.

According to the Economic Policy Institute's report, it's estimated that a raise to $15 per hour would lift up to 3.7 million people, including 1.3 million children, out of poverty. Here are some other benefits of raising the minimum wage.

  • It would increase pay for over 32 million workers in the US.
    An affected individual who works year-round will see an annual increase of approximately $3,300. This would also provide adequate wages to cover a family's most basic expenses and would no longer be at a poverty-level wage.

  • Increase to national minimum wage fosters a more racially just economy.
    Earnings would rise for nearly one in three Black workers and one in four Hispanic workers, compared to about one in five white workers.

  • A majority of those who will receive pay raises are essential and front-line workers.
    $15 minimum wage by 2025 would raise the salaries of at least 19 million essential and front-line workers.

  • A wage increase would benefit the economy.
    Despite claims, evidence shows that minimum wage increases have not lead to significant job losses. In fact, having some extra income in millions of American families' pockets could help by boosting aggregate demand.

Key points for those not in favor of raising the minimum wage (con)

  • Minimum wage increase could hurt small-businesses owners.
    According to a 2013 Gallup poll, 60% of small business owners think a wage increase will harm their business and force them to close stores since they cannot keep up with the pay requirements.

  • The price of consumer goods and services would increase.
    There has been some evidence to show that prices of goods and services may increase if the minimum wage gets a boost.

  • Increased competition for minimum wage jobs.
    Another potential impact of raising the minimum wage would be an increase in market competition for entry-level jobs. This could result in a large number of overqualified workers taking minimum wage jobs that would otherwise go to young or lesser experienced workers.

  • Employee benefits will decrease and tax payments will increase.
    Some reports show that CFOs claim they would reduce employee benefits if the minimum wage was increased. It would also mean tax payments will increase as an individual's income tax bracket potentially changes.

Other reads 

What are YOUR thoughts on raising the minimum wage? Comment below!

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Elyssa Duncan
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Alison Malboeuf

Don't be so easily deceived. Great starting wage, but it isn't full time. May only be scheduled 12-14hours.

Don't be so easily deceived. Great starting wage, but it isn't full time. May only be scheduled 12-14hours.

39w
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Jude Ossowski

Don't feel sorry for me. I didn't waste (note the PROPER spelling of the word) thousands of dollars and hours sitting in classrooms listen to lectures delivered in boring monotone by teachers who never care if you really learn anything or not or classes that are totally irrelevant to what I am trying to learn. I learned a few trades and will never look for work for very long, if ever. The trades were taught by practitioners and consisted of real exercises and practice, not theory. If a person will work for an offered compensation package, why should the employer offer or give more? If an employee does the work to become qualified to be a supervisor, shouldn't they be paid more than someone who needs supervision? As soon as employees start doing more to help themselves qualify for higher wages and stop crying about being "entitled" simply because they show up, they will be getting the higher paying jobs. Look who has the higher paying jobs already - the people who did the work to qualify for them. As far as benefits go, those should be determined by the employer, possibly in discussions with the prospective employee.

Don't feel sorry for me. I didn't waste (note the PROPER spelling of the word) thousands of dollars and hours sitting in classrooms listen to lectures delivered in boring monotone by teachers who never care if you really learn anything or not or classes that are totally irrelevant to what I am trying to learn. I learned a few trades and will never look for work for very long, if ever. The trades were taught by practitioners and consisted of real exercises and practice, not theory. If a person will work for an offered compensation package, why should the employer offer or give more? If an employee does the work to become qualified to be a supervisor, shouldn't they be paid more than someone who needs supervision? As soon as employees start doing more to help themselves qualify for higher wages and stop crying about being "entitled" simply because they show up, they will be getting the higher paying jobs. Look who has the higher paying jobs already - the people who did the work to qualify for them. As far as benefits go, those should be determined by the employer, possibly in discussions with the prospective employee.

41w
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Jude Ossowski

There is NO authority in the Constitution for the federal government to dictate compensation for anyone not employed by it. If you want to be paid more, make yourself more valuable to your employer, learn a different trade, start your one company and set your own salary. An employer pays what a job skills are required and how many people are available with those skills. Low skilled jobs (flipping burgers, pushing a broom) are easy and almost anyone can do them. Skilled trades (truck drivers, welders, carpenters) require more skilled workers and fewer people have those skills. Executive jobs (board of directors, CEO of a multi-national corporation) are highly skilled jobs requiring a background few people have hence the highest pay.

If $15/hour is good, wouldn't $25 be better? How about $100? Prove you're worth it and you'll have a chance at getting it.

There is NO authority in the Constitution for the federal government to dictate compensation for anyone not employed by it. If you want to be paid more, make yourself more valuable to your employer, learn a different trade, start your one company and set your own salary. An employer pays what a job skills are required and how many people are available with those skills. Low skilled jobs (flipping burgers, pushing a broom) are easy and almost anyone can do them. Skilled trades (truck drivers, welders, carpenters) require more skilled workers and fewer people have those skills. Executive jobs (board of directors, CEO of a multi-national corporation) are highly skilled jobs requiring a background few people have hence the highest pay.

If $15/hour is good, wouldn't $25 be better? How about $100? Prove you're worth it and you'll have a chance at getting it.

1y
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Angela Thompson

I guess the people whom have a problem with going up taxes are the people who aren't struggling to pay their mortgage, put food table ,or keeping light on.

I guess the people whom have a problem with going up taxes are the people who aren't struggling to pay their mortgage, put food table ,or keeping light on.

1y
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1
Angela Thompson

I think that I would help a lot of low income taxes to be able to pay their bills with out struggling

I think that I would help a lot of low income taxes to be able to pay their bills with out struggling

1y
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2
Robert Brueggeman

Stupid idea. Exponential increase at every level of service. Production cost UP. Shipping costs UP. Stocking cost Up. Customer service cost UP. This doesn't even start to list all the levels Result ----INFLATION This is the reason that what I made in 1970 has tripled but the cost of a car is 10 times as much, house 4 times, gas (19.9 cents, now $2.58). Minimum wage is entry level. People need the drive to move beyond what they make at high school level jobs

Stupid idea. Exponential increase at every level of service. Production cost UP. Shipping costs UP. Stocking cost Up. Customer service cost UP. This doesn't even start to list all the levels Result ----INFLATION This is the reason that what I made in 1970 has tripled but the cost of a car is 10 times as much, house 4 times, gas (19.9 cents, now $2.58). Minimum wage is entry level. People need the drive to move beyond what they make at high school level jobs

1y
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Sue Horton

If they raise minimum wage that would raise food gas everything so it would do anything you still wouldn't have enough and it would hurt small business so thay would just do something different then will you be no job everything going up

If they raise minimum wage that would raise food gas everything so it would do anything you still wouldn't have enough and it would hurt small business so thay would just do something different then will you be no job everything going up

1y
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Devika Patel

Minimum wage must be increased immediately and not in 2025.

Minimum wage must be increased immediately and not in 2025.

1y
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2
Hemi Smith

Great Article In 2014 More than 600 economists, concluded that “the weight of evidence now show[s] that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market.”

Great Article In 2014 More than 600 economists, concluded that “the weight of evidence now show[s] that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market.”

1y
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