But now it appears that the state of Illinois may be one step closer to increasing minumum wage to $10 an hour after Gov. Quinn visited President Obama in Washington, D.C. on Friday to discuss the issue.
Is that really the best thing for Illinois though? I have never been very interested in finances, and a couple of years ago, I never gave any thought to the minimum wage increase debate. And if I had, I probably would have been in favor of it, selfishly, because that would mean I’d make more money at my part-time job.
Now that I understand more about minimum wages, however, I don’t think that raising it to $10 would be feasible for many businesses. An article from eNews Park Forest mentioned businesses such as The Gap, Starbucks and Costco being very supportive of the change because they believe it could increase worker productivity as well as reducing employee turnover. The Gap even decided to change its own minimum wage to that amount across the nation, no matter what individual states have decided.
But it seems like the businesses mentioned are large companies. I agree that the number of people living below the poverty line simply because they are fulltime minimum wage workers is outrageous, but demanding that small businesses pay each employee $10 an hour is also outrageous, especially given the nature of some of the employees. My job at McDonald’s could have supported me working around 20 hours a pay period at $10, but I know that The Vidette would have more difficulty supporting that same amount for my job here. There are usually around 100 student workers here, and that could add up quickly for a small business.
I also know that some businesses, like my dad’s funeral home, rarely pay people by an hourly wage; he has when my sister or I pulled weeds and did extra chores before we were old enough to work outside of the family, and he still pays us hourly when we decide we want to earn a little extra money. But certain aspects that his part-time employees help with include working visitations or funerals, both of which have set wages instead of being based off of an hourly system.
I understand that earning merely $8.25 an hour can be hard to live on, especially for those workers who have children or other people to support on that wage. However, I do not think that raising the minimum wage to $10 would fix that problem. It seems like it would be a band-aid for a while. I feel like there is no real way to fix a lot of the problems nationally that we have without adjusting other areas in addition to the minimum wage requirement, and fairly soon after the $10 would be initiated (if it happens), there would be people complaining that much is not enough for them. In my opinion, there needs to be a discussion about more than just the minimum wage, but for now, I’m hoping that the government officials working on this understand the process in great detail and know that this is the best permanent solution.
Grace Johnson is a senior publishing major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding her column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.