$15 minimum wage is a change long overdue

While the cost of living in the United States continues to rise, the minimum wage in several states has stayed remarkably low at $7.25 an hour. However, there may be a change soon to come, as President Biden is pushing to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. This will be the first increase for the standard minimum wage since 2009. While there may be some who oppose this change, I think that it is necessary.

As stated in an article from the Economic Policy Institute: “A $15 minimum wage would begin to reverse decades of growing pay inequality between the most underpaid workers and workers receiving close to the median wage, particularly along gender and racial lines. For example, minimum wage increases in the late 1960s explained 20% of the decrease in the Black–white earnings gap in the years that followed, whereas failures to adequately increase the minimum wage after 1979 account for almost half of the increase in inequality between women at the middle and bottom of the wage distribution.

“A $15 minimum wage by 2025 would generate $107 billion in higher wages for workers and would also benefit communities across the country,” the article continued. “Because underpaid workers spend much of their extra earnings, this injection of wages will help stimulate the economy and spur greater business activity and job growth.”

$7.25 an hour is not enough income to cover someone’s cost of living. If you are a full-time employee in North Carolina, making minimum wage and working 80 hours every two weeks an estimated take home amount after taxes is $487 which is a total of $974 monthly. This amount could decrease depending on if the employee has medical coverage and a 401K plan. Medical plans can be over $100 monthly for just the employee’s coverage. Imagine if they also had a dependent. 

Let us factor in rent or a mortgage, car payments, utilities, phone bills, gas and groceries. With this income, the employee cannot afford any unexpected expenses. What if they needed new clothes? What if they had to replace a major appliance? Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour may provide more financial stability to those in need.

Some retail businesses have already begun to embrace the much needed change and have increased their starting minimum wage pay for employees. This list includes Amazon, Wayfair, Costco, Hobby Lobby, Best Buy and Target. Other businesses, such as AllState, Chobani, Wells Fargo and Bank of America raised their minimum wage to $20 an hour as of last year. Kudos to these businesses for showing appreciation to their employees by offering them a better financial future.

There are some states, like Alaska, Arizona, Washington D.C., Florida, Delaware and Hawaii, that have increased their minimum wages from $8 to $15. Sadly, states like Iowa, Kansas, Wisconsin and North Carolina are content to be behind the curve, leaving their minimum wage at $7.25 an hour. 

If you oppose employees making livable wages, then maybe you should try living off the limited income of only $7.25 an hour. I’m sure you will find those conditions not to your liking and will want more. I applaud President Joe for pushing for this change and I am looking forward to seeing the minimum wage increase over the next few years once approved.