The political rhetoric—especially in a Presidential Election Year—raises the volume in the debate over a higher Federal Minimum Wage. It was last raised, to $7.25, on July 24, 2009. Low-wage jobs generally do not pay any benefits; however, in some states, an even higher minimum wage is mandated. Employers, however, can obviously pay even more if they wish.
Many conservative politicians plead the case of large corporate employers, claiming that higher wages would result in lay-offs. Unions and other labor groups have lately been picketing in favor of a $15.00 minimum-wage. Both sides, however, are wrong! Incremental $1.00 hourly wage increases—a 13.8% of that minimum—would help employees while at the same time, employers could pass that on in marginally higher prices. Keep in mind that some employers have been short-changing their workers’ wages, based on their contribution to profits anyway.
Workers also have to face the facts that, while $15.00 per hour might be justified in major cities, such as New York and San Francisco—where the cost-of-living is excessive—lesser amounts would probably be more justifiable in many other places. The intent of a minimum-wage should be to insure that employees are paid a fair wage, for an honest day’s work. This is why there should be some wage adjustment, based upon what would be appropriate in the local economy.
Part of the problem, in America, is also that students do not strive for—and parents don’t push them to—get the best education that they possibly can. Just getting through, or being content with a high school degree, is not sufficient to guarantee a comfortable lifestyle in today’s world. Accordingly, just biding one’s time, in order to work in the local plant or mine, just doesn’t cut it. Factories have moved out of many cities, mines have closed due to environmental concerns, and depleted fisheries are no longer cost-effective.
A proper education, however, may expand a first-time job-seeker’s possibilities. And, if they have had some vocational, community college or university degrees, they won’t be relegated to routine jobs; but, to ones that can challenge their minds, and advance their career potential. Better that than to compete for dead-end minimum-wage jobs.
Here’s where the whole community must work together to improve the local quality of life. Just think: young people’s life expectations can be improved exponentially; educators will have the satisfaction of a job well done; communities will benefit from more successful citizens and taxpayers; and businesses will reap the benefits of a superior pool of employees, as well as an enhanced client base. And accordingly, that means that those low-skilled/low-paying foreign markets will just have to step-up—and develop their own industrial and technological base.