Rachel K. California

Minimum Wage Should Be a Living Wage

The current federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour. Thousands of workers work 40 hours a week and still live in poverty. It is almost impossible for workers to support their families, especially if they are single parents. The minimum wage should be raised to $10.10 or higher.

Dear Future President,

I am writing to you to advocate for raising the federal minimum wage. There are thousands of people living in the United States that are trying to live on the federal minimum wage but still live in poverty. I have met and heard about many minimum wage workers who are working extremely hard to take care of themselves and their families. When I volunteered at a homeless shelter, I met people who worked but still had to receive handouts to avoid going hungry. These people are struggling to get by and desperately need more money to survive. Also, it is nearly impossible for single parents to take care of their children while working even two or three jobs. In many cities in the United States, the Fight for $15 campaign has been gaining momentum, with thousands of workers rallying for an increase in wages. The minimum wage should be a living wage. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25. The federal minimum wage should be raised to $10.10 or higher.

Raising the minimum wage would drastically improve the quality of life for thousands of minimum wage workers. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office said that the Harkin-Miller bill which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 would collectively increase incomes of people who are below the federal poverty line by $5 billion. Even a few additional dollars could help workers earn more of a living wage. People could use the money to buy necessities like clothes and food or pay their monthly rents. I read a Forbes interview with a McDonald’s worker named Carmen Iverson. Carmen Iverson is a mom of four children and makes about $400-600 a month after taxes while working about 27 hours per week. Her monthly rent is $650. Often times, she cannot pay her rent. She has no money left to pay for food, new clothes, or toys for her kids. Even though she receives food stamps, her kids still do not have enough to eat. She does not qualify for Medicaid because she works. Her story is one of thousands of workers’ stories in the United States.

Many people say raising the minimum wage would hurt small businesses and increase unemployment. They argue that increasing wages will cause owners to raise prices and this will deter consumers from buying their products. Consequently, the businesses would lay off many workers to cut cost. However, this is not the case. A higher minimum wage would increase productivity and decrease the turnover rate. Also, there are multiple studies like Myth and Measurement by Alan Krueger and David Card that show how increasing the minimum wage actually caused unemployment to decrease in many states. Wage increases are not the only factor in unemployment and unemployment rate depend on the states. While some small businesses may not be able to absorb the costs of raising the minimum wage, raising the minimum wage will help millions of workers to rise above the poverty level in the United States.

Also, raising the minimum wage would help the economy. If workers are paid more, they will be less likely to leave the business. This will decrease the turnover rate for businesses. As a result, businesses would not have to spend time, money, and effort to hire new employees. Workers will not have to rely as much on government aid like Medicaid or food stamps. Therefore, the government could use the money that would be spent on these programs to work on improving other aspects of people’s lives or lower taxes.

Many businesses can afford to pay their workers more. At huge corporations like Chipotle, the CEO can earn as much as 2000 times more than the average employee. If business owners are willing to make a little less money, they could help thousands of employees.

We cannot forget there is a moral case for raising the minimum wage. If people cannot live on the minimum wage, the wage needs to increase. People should not be struggling to feed themselves and their families even though they work three or four jobs. Not everyone has been given the opportunities and education necessary to acquire a higher paying job.

Please take this into consideration and help raise the minimum wage.


Rachel K.

Newbury Park High School

IB Lang & Lit HL 1 - Period 3B (Lilly)

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