Cooper Aitken

Should We Raise the Minimum Wage?

March 22, 2021

Minimum Wages Should be Raised

The federal minimum wage of the United States hasn’t been raised since 2009 and for covered nonexempt employees the wage stands at $7.25 per hour. While each state has the right to establish their own higher minimum wages, the federal minimum wage rates needs to increase in the coming years.

On March 5th, an open vote in the Senate proposing to increase the federal minimum wage took place, settling with a vote favoring those against the provision. Included in President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, the proposal was quickly averted by Senate arbiter Elizabeth MacDonough. The Democrats who voted against the minimum wage raise signified that once Biden’s stimulus plan is revised, they will open up to working out the proposal.

While the official raise of the federal minimum wage is still in dispute, increases have gradually started already in some states such as California and Florida. Though the wage is set at a minimum of $7, most states have set higher standard wages and most minimum wage workers make around $11.80 per hour.

So why should the federal minimum wage be raised if most states have already naturally risen them themselves? According to the Economic Policy Institute, if the federal minimum wage is increased to $15 by 2025, pay would be lifted for 32 million workers, initiating the turning point of reversing decades of growing pay inequality.

Among the workers that this pay would be lifted for, many people of color would seek improvement in equal paying and treatment. With where the current minimum wage stands, BIPOC workers, especially women, are typically underpaid due to systemic sexism and racism. 

As a result, our current national minimum wage of $7.25 hurts women as well as black and Hispanic workers the most.


“In addition to being older, low-wage workers are much more likely to be a woman or person of color than the average worker. As a result, our current national minimum wage of $7.25 hurts women as well as black and Hispanic workers the most. Nearly 56 percent of those who would benefit from a $15 minimum wage in 2024 are women, despite women making up only 48 percent of the total U.S. workforce,” said the EPI. 

Along with the inequality the current federal minimum wage imposes on workers of color and women, small businesses are also at a disadvantage. When COVID-19 emerged at the beginning of 2020, small businesses were hurt and operation rates decreased by almost 34 percent.  

“Small businesses are a crucial part of the U.S. economy, employing about one-third of the workforce, according to the most recent available data. As a result, small businesses are a crucial part of the recovery and need meaningful federal aid to rebuild,” according to the Center for American Progress.

Additionally, a raise has never resulted in an immediate issue such as direct job losses. If anything, increasing minimum wage would help spur the economy, job growth, and productive activity. For example, the Institute for Policy Studies states that “for every extra dollar going into the wallet of a low-wage worker, about $1.21 is added to the overall economy.”

Beyond the threats and damage the current wage does and can do, it is only reasonable for it to be raised. Our economy would not fall or suffer just from gradually raising the minimum wage to $15. In fact, the economy is more than capable of supplying the expenses and the wage would be well over $20 an hour nowadays if it had increased following the rate of productivity growth since 1960.

Overall, increasing the federal minimum wage has far more benefits than drawbacks such as economic improvement and gains for all workers, making the proposal the most logical decision in the years to come. While the financial condition and general well-being of our nation begins to recover from the pandemic, a gradually enlarging raise would significantly help everyone.

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A $15 Federal Minimum Wage Would Be Devastating To Low-Income Americans

The COVID-19 pandemic has made economic stress for low-income families a pressing and relevant issue, now more than ever. While serious action needs to be taken to support the many Americans struggling to provide for themselves and their families, raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour is far from the best way to tackle the issue. 

Raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour only solves urban issues, but leaves rural parts of our country economically destroyed. Many small businesses simply cannot afford to pay such high minimum wages for their employees, and would either be forced to lay off workers or go bankrupt and shut their doors. Either way, jobs are lost and lives are overturned. 

According to the Congressional Budgetary Office, raising the federal minimum wage so drastically would result in 1.4 million Americans losing their jobs, while only 0.9 million Americans would be lifted out of poverty.

Such extreme job loss would devastate the many Americans who are left unemployed, leading many in a worse place than before. Increased unemployment would put tremendous strain on already troubled government welfare programs and harm our economy that is still reeling from the pandemic. 

A $15 minimum wage is great for urban areas of the country due to increased living costs in metropolitan regions, but fails to account for or benefit rural workers and business owners.

The $7.25 minimum wage was set on July 24, 2009, which would be almost $9 today when adjusted for inflation. If the minimum wage were to rise, it should be raised to no more than $10 dollars an hour, as any additional raises would be devastating to those it’s trying to assist. 

Furthermore, America is a large and diverse country, and a $15 federal minimum wage fails to account for the drastically different costs of living throughout the states. The cost of living in Mississippi is approximately 14% lower than the national average while New York state has a cost of living 20.5% above the national average, a 34.5% percent difference. 

Such drastic variations in cost of living means that small businesses in states similar to Mississippi would be forced to overpay their employees, which is not feasible for most of those businesses already struggling to make ends meet. 

A $15 minimum wage is great for urban areas of the country due to increased living costs in metropolitan regions, but fails to account for or benefit rural workers and business owners.

Still, this does not mean that we should abandon the 34 million Americans living below the poverty line. 

A much more beneficial solution to start the end of American poverty is a Universal Basic Income (UBI), which is a program where every adult would receive a set amount of money on a regular basis. 

Andrew Yang ran on the idea of a UBI, where every American would receive $1,000 a month, and gained a large and devoted support base due to this. 

An American UBI would help feed, shelter, and clothe Americans living on a minimum wage without financially ruining the businesses they work for. It would also give many Americans easier access to save and start their own businesses, which they would not be able to afford otherwise.

A UBI would be easier to distribute than welfare as there would be little to no qualifications and most Americans would be able to join.

A $15 minimum wage has good intentions in improving the lives of the working class, despite this it would do more harm than good. However, a UBI is a much more achievable system in lifting Americans out of poverty without hurting small businesses and the economy.

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