All Work and No Wages

The discussions around the U.S. minimum wage are only escalating from here, and many potential solutions come out of them. (Photo credit via Pixabay)

Sophia Gambill

Contributing Writer 

In the United States, the federal minimum wage does not cover the cost of living for many of its citizens. For many, they work hard just to come home with a check that doesn’t cover their bills.

The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is not a livable wage in the country, and a federal wage increase is long overdue. The federal government needs to increase the minimum wage to help increase the quality of life of many Americans.

There has not been an increase in the federal minimum wage since 2009. Even though the cost of living has continued to rise, minimum wages have only increased at the state level in around half of the United States. Many Americans, approximately 2/3rds, support a federal minimum wage of $15 per hour according to an article by Andrew Soergel titled, “24 U.S. States will see a Minimum Wage Increase in 2020.”

There has been a large push from workers to raise the federal minimum wage. The journal article titled, “Working for That Minimum Wage” tells the story of one woman, Pamela Flood, who advocates for a minimum wage increase. Pamela Flood says that she and her children ended up homeless due to the fact they could not afford the cost of living. Despite the cries from people like Pamela Flood, no federal minimum wage increase bill has been supported by the U.S. Senate.

A federal wage increase would lessen the pay disparities based on race and gender. People who are not home workers, which are overwhelmingly Black, Latinx, and Native American workers, would see a pay raise. Women in their career building years would benefit from the increase. After the pandemic, the wealth gap for women rose. A federal minimum wage increase would help close that pay gap.

A study done by Benjamin Karney and his team has shown that a pay increase can also increase the quality of one’s personal life by reducing divorce rates. According to their study, people who are poorer have a tendency to marry young and are then twice as likely to get divorced.

The authors found that when an individual feels financially secure, they are less likely to rush into marriage, subsequently lowering the chances of divorce. Partners who both feel financially secure also tend to have more satisfying relationships. This is just one way that personal wellbeing and an individual’s happiness can be bettered by a minimum wage increase.

One of the leading arguments against a minimum wage raise increase is that small business would suffer. While there is a possibility that too much of a raise increase would hurt small businesses, with help from the government this could be avoided.

Tax credits could help small businesses by allowing them to pay their employees more. Another common argument against the minimum wage is the effect it would have on the economy. According to the journal article, “There’s no hiding from the Minimum Wage”, a federal minimum wage increase is something the economy could afford. The article, “24 U.S. States will see a Minimum Wage Increase in 2020,” states that most economists believe the U.S would not be hurt from a wage increase. They also said that the U.S could actually benefit from a federal wage increase.

In conclusion, a federal minimum wage increase is necessary in order for people in the United States to afford the cost of living. Emotional benefits that would come with the raise increase include more satisfaction in one’s relationships, feelings of appreciation as a worker, and feelings of financial security. The raise increase would also help advance towards equal pay regardless of gender or race.

While there have been concerns over an increase of the federal minimum wage, there are many ways to work through the problems that do exist, with some of the perceived issues being a nonstarter. A federal minimum wage increase is not something Americans just want; it is something that they need. It is time for a federal minimum wage increase in the United States.

Email Sophia at: