The debate of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour has once again made its way to Washington. Raising the minimum wage is argued as a tool to help individuals rise out of poverty. The minimum wage is not a living wage. There is nowhere in the United States where a minimum wage worker can afford a two-bedroom home. Many would say the raising the federal minimum wage is long overdue. So why is there so much debate as to whether it should be raised or not?
One of the main arguments against the minimum wage is that it will hurt small businesses. Small businesses would not be able to absorb the cost of the wage hike. They may be forced to raise prices, cut the quality of their product, lay off employees, or take a hit in their already small earnings. Politicians debate that raising the minimum wage would result in substantial job losses as employers cut jobs to absorb the higher labor cost.
Prices will rise if the federal minimum wage is raised. However, the rise in goods and services will be minimal, and employers will save money by avoiding high turnover rates. Turnover is expensive for employers as they have to train and recruit individuals. Having a higher minimum wage means employees stick around longer, helping to absorb some of the cost. Another argument for raising the federal minimum wage is the increase in demand for goods and services. As lower-wage workers increase their income, the more money they have to spend in their local economy, raising profits for businesses. Suppressing wages will not help small businesses recover from the impact of the pandemic.
Low-wage workers have been essential during the pandemic, and they have been hit the hardest. As vaccine rollouts continue and there is light at the end of the tunnel, the search for how to help the economy recover continues. Politicians are hardly in agreement with how to help the United States recover. The minimum wage has not been raised since 2009, and raising it is long overdue. Wages have not kept up with inflation, and many individuals are working harder to make ends meet. As the country recovers from the pandemic and more individuals get back to work, it may be time to raise the minimum wage slowly.
Stephanie Carlsen, Clearfield