Dear Future President,
The United States has a problem with income inequality across all of its states. An extremely low minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is a major contributing factor because it does not provide enough money to support daily living. As of 2014, there were 77 million people working for the minimum wage. Sixty-five percent of minimum wage workers work part time, earning about $15,000 annually, which falls short of the amount needed for all living expenses. The baseline federal wage must be higher so that all Americans can earn enough money to support themselves and their families.
The minimum wage is different across many states, resulting in different “classes” of people in different areas. The cost of living is different in different areas of the country. But, this should not affect a needed change in the federal minimum wage. According to the Washington Post, Washington DC’s minimum wage is $15.00 per hour, while Idaho and New Hampshire have less than half of that, at $7.25 per hour. Since this inequality is continuing, the gap between the rich and the poor is widening, resulting in a disappearing middle class, leaving only the rich and the poor. This needs to be addressed immediately, because our economy is falling because of it.
According to a 2015 report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a worker has to earn at least $15.00 per hour (over twice the federal wage) to be able to afford a one bedroom apartment and the bare essentials. Many men and women living in poverty have multiple children and are struggling to keep their families healthy and educated. A 2014 study found that raising the California minimum wage to $13 per hour increased the incomes of 7.5 million families, meaning fewer would live in poverty. Children who live in poverty are twice as likely to miss three or more days of school per month compared to those who do not live in poverty. We must raise the minimum wage because it will help keep children in school and promote a more educated future.
In addition, when natural disasters occur in our country (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes), areas are devastated and people lose their homes and their jobs. Raising the minimum wage will help people overcome these incidents because they will have the necessary resources to rebuild their communities.
Many small businesses cannot afford to increase the minimum wage, raising another slight problem. A 2013 Gallup Poll surveyed many small businesses and recorded that 60 percent of small businesses would have to close and lay off workers to cover the costs of higher wages. While this is also a problem, it requires separate attention. Supporting small businesses has been a success in the past. We need to focus on the fact that 45 million people, close to 15 percent of Americans, live on less than $42 per day.
The current federal minimum wage needs to be addressed immediately. Every hour, workers are getting deeper and deeper into debt and crisis, losing their homes and not being able to afford essential items. It affects the education of our children and does not allow people to have the resources they need to handle unexpected events. The minimum wage must be raised to lift our country out of poverty.