Minimum wages, maximum changes

Stop cheating workers with poverty-level compensation

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Minimum wages, maximum changes

Art by Erin Cavender

Art by Erin Cavender

Art by Erin Cavender

Art by Erin Cavender

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When teenagers in the suburbs of Chicago begin to apply for jobs, one of the most commonly heard complaints is that no jobs that are available for students who have yet to attend college pay enough. For a high school student, the money earned at one of these jobs many be used to pay for college, gas, or personal expenses. With the cost of college continuously rising, students argue for higher minimum wages but a rise in the minimum wage is even more vital for those who live in poverty, since low minimum wages rob them of a chance to break the cycle and create better lives for themselves.

The current minimum wage in the suburbs of Chicago is $8.25 per hour, which is far to low for someone to live on, let alone for a person struggling with poverty to use to receive an higher level education and find a salary paying job. Someone who works a full-time job and is paid minimum wage would earn $15,080 per year, which is below the poverty line. Often times, people who work minimum wage jobs are forced to turn to government assistance programs and food pantries to simply make ends meet. Not only would raising the minimum wage create better lives for workers, but it would stimulate the economy and lead to a more productive workforce.

The federal minimum wage hasn’t changed since 2009, at time when the United States was in the middle of a recession which was one of the worst since the Great Depression. In 2009, politicians were not concerned with wages, but the enormous amount of unemployment that plagued the country, a rate that reached nearly ten percent. Today, millions of people struggle to live on minimum wages, which vary by state but remain near the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Now is the perfect time to raise the federal minimum wage. The economy is much more stable than it was nine years ago, which has prompted many employers to raise their wages already. One such employer is Michael Lastori who is the CEO of & Pizza, a company that is located in Washington D.C. and four states. He pays new employees $10.50 an hour rather than the federal minimum of $7.25.

“It’s a simple, but critical, concept: take care of your people and they will take care of your customers,” said Lastori.

Additionally, three out four Americans support an increase in the federal minimum wage.

While raising the minimum wage may seem like an easy decision to make, some fear that such a move could put smaller corporations out of business. Often times, the media only chooses to publicize the small percentage of companies that don’t support raising the minimum wage. This tainted view of the issue proves bias, as a 2016 survey performed by a Republican polling firm reported that 80% of business owners supported raising the minimum wage. This survey proves that the issue, which media outlets often present to be favorable only for Democrats, is about more than politics, but rather about stimulating the economy and creating opportunities for anyone who works a minimum wage job.

The support for higher minimum wages spans across all types of businesses, from multi million dollar businesses to family owned stores. Businesses like Ikea, Costco, and Facebook have all shown their support for a higher minimum wages. Owners of smaller stores have banded together to create Business for a Fair Minimum wage, a group that advocates for higher federal and state minimum wages.

While support for higher wages exists across America, action must be taken in the form of legislation to not only break the cycle of poverty but to aid students who struggle to overcome student loans or support their interests and hobbies. It’s imperative for students and everyday people to support raising the minimum wage in order to create change.

 

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