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

Cooper Aitken, Staff Writer

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.