|Wage debate in the U.S.|
|Written by The Vidette Editorial Board|
|Thursday, 21 February 2013 12:46|
After President Obama’s State of the Union address on Feb. 13, everyone had something to say about what Obama proposed, whether it was positive or negative.
In particular, the debate about possibly raising the federal minimum wage became quite heated.
During the State of the Union, Obama addressed the country by saying it was unacceptable that those who work hard are not given the wages they deserve.
He explained that, “Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong.”
Obama continued, saying “Let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.”
Currently, the federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 an hour, and in Illinois it’s a dollar more.
Since many of us are working minimum wage jobs while going to school, an extra 75 cents an hour sounds like a good deal.
But there are many arguments for and against a raise in the federal minimum wage.
The first reaction for many when hearing Obama declare a wage increase was that the cost of living would also be increased.
Since businesses would have to pay its employees a higher wage, it’s believed that prices of goods would rise to compensate the loss. Likewise, critics believe many employees will be laid off in order to conserve company funds.
After the State of the Union address, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said, “When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) followed suit saying, “The impact of minimum wage usually is that businesses hire less people.”
As with any debate, there are two sides to this issue. There is a lot of evidence out there that supports the argument that an increase in the federal minimum wage will not raise the cost of living or decrease the amount of available jobs. The Center for Economic and Policy Research published a report this month by John Schmitt that examines the effect of minimum wage on employment.
Schmitt found that an increase in wages led employers to increase the efficiency of their employees and required that the companies produce more of its products. An increase in wages meant that families had more income to buy items with.
Many people are failing to see that multi-billion dollar companies are not going to be greatly affected by a higher federal minimum wage. What will likely happen is that more people are going to be able to buy the necessities they need to survive, which in turn will be more money that is put back into corporations and the economy.
In addition to the national debate on minimum wage, this issue is hitting us close to home as Gov. Quinn recently called for Illinois to raise its already fourth-highest state minimum wage to $10 an hour.
Quinn’s reasoning is similar to Obama’s, saying “Nobody in Illinois should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty.”
Instead of advocating that an increase in minimum wage is a good or bad idea, this Editorial Board would like to encourage readers to research the issue including both sides of the argument, and personally make an informed decision.
There is no way for us to predict the actual outcomes of a rise in minimum wage, but we need to be informed citizens and develop an educated opinion based on facts and research.