Minimum Wage 

By Nupur Kudapkar 

Currently, $7.25 is the minimum wage for the United States of America, which is $58 after an eight-hour work day, $290 at the end of the work week, $1,160 at the end of the work month, and $13,920 at the end of the working year. Every single American knows that you simply can not survive America’s rapidly growing monopolies and economy if you barely make above $10k. In order to survive, you need a living wage, not a minimum wage. 

Living wage is defined as the necessary wage needed in order for working-class citizens to meet their basic needs. Contrastingly, the minimum wage is defined as the lowest pay that employers can pay their workers. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) published an article named “A Calculation of the Living Wage” by Dr. Stephanie Moser and she found that the living wage for a family of four with two working adults and two children as of December 2021 “…compiling geographically specific expenditure data for food, childcare, health care, housing, transportation, and other necessities, finds that: The living wage in the United States is $24.16 per hour, or $100,498.60 per year in 2021, before taxes for a family of four…” Think about it this way, if you had a partner and two children and both you and your partner worked for about 9 hours a day for five days a week and earned $24.16 an hour then you successfully managed to have a living wage! However, not in California because most metropolitan areas such as San Francisco ($147,922) and San Jose ($149,014)  have the highest living wages for an average family of four. This means that if you and your partner earned a living wage of $24.16 then you both would have to work thirteen hours a day, five days a week, in order to live in these areas in California. However, if you and your partner both earned minimum wage in California ($15.50) then you both would have to work twenty hours a day to earn a living wage, that is ludicrous. Even more ludicrous, if you worked for the national minimum wage ($7.25) twenty-four hours for both you and your partner would only make you $83,520. But what if you were a single parent earning minimum wage? The same article found that “Single-parent families need to work almost twice as hard as families with two working adults to make a living wage. A single mother with two children earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour needs to work 235 hours per week [which is not even possible because there are only 168 hours in a week], the equivalent of almost six full-time minimum-wage jobs, to make a living wage.” The fact that thousands of families, especially single-parent families, struggle to make ends meet every year is heartbreaking and inflation does not help. 

Clearly, this brings me to why we need to increase the national minimum wage- because of inflation. Inflation is defined as a general increase in prices combined with a fall in the purchasing value of money. Near-historic price hikes for necessities such as food and gas have sparked concern. The cost of eggs has climbed about 50% in the previous year, while the cost of milk and bread has each risen approximately 15%, despite decreasing from a summer high, gas prices are still 10% higher than a year ago. Inflation has risen quite a bit as the economy is still recovering from the pandemic. High inflation is having an impact on consumers. Households are having a harder time making ends meet as the cost of living rises and buying power declines. Even though everyone is aware that inflation is a concern, several factors interact to create this financial stress.  to Forbes, “High inflation can be attributed in part to supply chain issues, steady demand, and energy uncertainty. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates to combat inflation.” However, what would the consequences be of increasing the minimum wage? According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a higher minimum wage might lift some of these families out of poverty by increasing the real income of low-wage employees who have employment (i.e., income adjusted to eliminate the impacts of inflation). However, because other employees would lose their positions and business owners would be forced to cover at least some of the additional labor costs, some families’ incomes would fall. Raising the minimum wage would result in a net decrease in average family income. A higher minimum wage would increase some families’ income over the poverty line, lowering the number of people living in poverty by increasing the income of low-wage employees who have employment. However, low-wage individuals who lost their jobs would lose their wages, and, in some circumstances, their family’s income would drop below the poverty line. Since the first effect would often be stronger than the second, fewer individuals would live in poverty overall (Congressional Budget Office).

It is obvious that Americans require higher wages in order to thrive in the United States. We need to raise the minimum wage since the costs of supporting oneself and a family are rising due to low minimum wages and rising inflation.