Should federal minimum wage be raised to $15 per hour?


Fact Box

  • The national minimum wage was created in 1938 by Congress under the Fair Labor Standards Act at the rate of $0.25 per hour.  
  • According to the Economic Policy Institute, in 2016, the average age of a minimum-wage worker was 36 years, while 56% were women, and 28% had children to support.
  • A 2021 Pew Research Study revealed that 62% of respondents support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. 
  • Besides Washington, DC’s $15 minimum hourly wage, as of June 2021, California has the highest minimum wage in the US, paying $14 per hour.

Bill (No)

The federal minimum wage should not be raised to $15 per hour. At face value, a higher minimum wage may sound innocuous; but its net effects are largely negative and at odds with the cheerful narrative used to sell the idea. Contrary to the emotional appeal that Democrats typically make to build support for this flawed idea, raising the minimum wage will not miraculously lift families out of poverty since 90% of adults in low-income families do not work full-time.

Small businesses comprise 99.9% of all businesses in the US and would bear the brunt of any increase in the minimum wage. This means that the businesses that can least afford to do so will be asked to make one or more of the following difficult choices: absorb additional labor costs, raise their prices, lay off existing employees and/or convert to automation, or outsource jobs (if possible) to cheaper offshore resources.

Small businesses will be averse to making themselves less competitive by raising their prices, and offshoring is only an option for certain jobs like telephone support or manufacturing. Instead, employers will look to cut jobs as their labor costs increase. An estimated 1.7 million jobs will be lost as a result of a minimum wage increase. And those laid off--or replaced with automation--will likely be the least-skilled, making them candidates to stay dependent on government assistance and worsening our existing poverty problem. And businesses will have to expand existing employees’ job tasks to include the ones previously covered by the laid-off staff. 

A $15 per hour minimum wage is a Trojan horse for more social welfare problems, deficit spending, and chronic unemployment; it should be vigorously opposed.

Amna (Yes)

Raising the federal minimum wage is the most efficient economic decision to strengthen workers, businesses, and consumers in America. It would be pivotal in higher spending, lower employee turnover, and better business performance overall. A fair minimum wage was also a core demand of the civil rights movement, which called for a $2.00 national minimum wage--equivalent to $15.00 today.

Raising the minimum wage does not have to be a sudden step. Experts suggest that gradually increasing it to $15 by 2025 could result in $107 billion in higher wages. This means more influx of money into the economy and higher spending power for the average consumer. It is also long overdue, considering the higher cost of living and the steadily rising inflation in America.

Minimum wage, in practice, should also be an amount on which at least one adult can live comfortably. However, this is almost impossible to pull off at the current rate. Additionally, most minimum-wage jobs don’t provide paid sick leave or health insurance, meaning that missed work costs even more for minimum-wage workers. 

Contrary to popular belief, there is evidence that raising the minimum wage would not lead to job losses or business losses. Instead, the increase would motivate young adults from marginalized communities and help them support their families. Nine out of 10 people who would benefit from a wage increase would be adults aged 20 or older. Making these employees more financially secure and stable would lead to a more engaged, positive, and motivated workforce. Further, it’s proven that happier employees lead to better profits for businesses as well.

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