Letter to the Editor: Higher minimum wage helps economy

Oct. 20, 2015

Lately there has been an influx of reporting American’s frustration with income inequality and the widening of the income gap between the rich and the poor.  I believe part of this inequality encompasses the low amount of the minimum wage in our state and in the country.  For someone who makes over the minimum wage, it is sometimes difficult to make ends meet.  I cannot imagine trying to raise a family on a minimum wage income.  Before taxes, an individual working full-time and getting paid the state and federal minimum wage of $7.50 an hour, earns $15,080 annually. According to the Living Wage Calculator, a single person needs to make at least $9.97 an hour, $17,678 annually, to pay for the basic necessities such as food, shelter and transportation.  The income needs for expenses increases dramatically if the individual has children. 

Some individuals are against raising the minimum wage because they think that it would hurt the economy or cause people to lose their jobs.  I read an article about the SeaTac airport area (in Seattle, WA) raising the minimum wage to $15. One of the business owners (of a parking lot type business) was upset that he would have to raise the salary of his employees, stating that he would either have to let some of his employees go or greatly increase the prices of his product.  A year or so after the raising of his employees’ wages, he instead had to hire more workers because more people could now afford to use his services.

I have also heard people dismiss individuals who make minimum wage because they work in certain fields.  The fast food worker is the most common example of someone making minimum wage.  Many individuals feel that fast food workers should not make as much as or close to the same amount as someone who has gone to college or who works at a “harder” job.  I think that anyone who works full time should earn a livable wage; meaning that if they work full time they should be able to purchase at least the bare necessities for living.  Not only would this greatly improve the lives throughout the country, it would help stimulate the economy.

Ashley McWilliam

Social Work BA