The topic of raising the federal minimum wage has been increasingly important for Americans every year. A major question of focus has been, “Do you think Americans, working underpaid jobs, deserve to live better if they are working full time?” Although it sounds easy and like a nice thing to do, this is a complex ideal that involves economics and the understanding of the structure of our great nation.
Numerous studies have been done on American workers’ opinions about whether they believe the minimum wage should or should not be increased. In a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, about two-thirds of Americans, approximately 67 percent, support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. That study also reports that 41 percent of Americans support any kind of raise. Although support for this type of legislation is clear, it seems that there is also a deep partisan divide in Congress, which means making progress will be extremely difficult.
In order to make the right decision on this issue, Americans must remove their emotions and look at the facts, because once the minimum wage is raised, it will become almost impossible to bring down; therefore, the consequences will be everlasting. Raising the federal minimum wage is an extremely dangerous and leftist idea that is currently being debated in Congress. At the moment, the minimum wage ranges from state to state; however, Democrats in Congress are pushing legislation that would affect the overall federal minimum wage raise which will impact all states.
What kind of effects would this have on our country? For starters, jobs will be cut. If the federal minimum wage is raised to $15 an hour, small businesses are going to be hit the hardest. Employers are not going to be able to afford paying multiple workers at such a high rate, and therefore jobs are going to become limited. The people who work these minimum wage jobs, for the most part, are young and inexperienced workers getting their feet wet in the job industry, and they may then be out of a job.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, as reported by Vox, it could trigger a 1.3 million job loss for low-paid workers. This would be detrimental to the American economy and would damage all small businesses and low paid workers, increasing poverty. Currently, with the coronavirus pandemic regulations in place, small businesses are already suffering due to lockdowns. With a new law in place such as raising the minimum wage, even more damage would be done.
Not only would the increase in a federal minimum wage hurt jobs, it would also increase the living conditions in all states. Since workers will be getting paid more, prices and labor costs will increase dramatically. In a state such as Arkansas this would be extremely consequential to citizens’ livelihoods, compared to a state such as California or New York, where the cost of living is more expensive. If any minimum wage increases should occur, then it should be on a state to state basis, not with large governmental action.
On Capitol Hill, Minority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican from Lousianna, released a statement claiming the bill would be “devastating” for middle-class families, by citing information released by the Congressional Budget Office. “Think about that, that’s the entire state of Oklahoma losing their job.” Scalise continued saying, “The CBO report that came out should be alarming to everybody in America who believes in trying to become part of the middle class.”
New Democratic President Joe Biden’s stimulus package of $1.9 trillion dollars has included the raise to a $15 minimum wage. This increase would gradually occur over the course of five years. Senator Bernie Sanders, who has been a loud supporter of this bill for years, spoke on the topic during a floor debate in the Senate. According to Business Insider, Sanders said he would do “everything I can to make sure that a $15 minimum wage is included in this reconciliation bill.” He also spoke out against the idea that this bill would hurt American workers during the ongoing pandemic: “It was never my intent to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour immediately during the pandemic,” Sanders said. “My legislation gradually increases the minimum wage to $15 an hour over a five-year period, and that is what I believe we ought to do.” He is referencing the change that House Democrats have made to bill. They have amended it to slowly phase in the raise.
No matter your opinion on this topic, it is important to consider all of the consequences of this major piece of legislation. In a capitalistic society, the fundamental idea of individualism and hard work needs to be present forever, in order to salvage our economy and values. Americans should remember the phrase that former President John F. Kennedy once spoke: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”