Exploratory Essay: Is the Minimum Wage High Enough

Topics: Minimum wage, Wage, Working class Pages: 4 (1694 words) Published: December 13, 2005
If you have ever worked for minimum wage, I am sure you have felt as if your time was worthless. After taxes you brought home next to nothing, no matter how often you worked. That's at least how I felt when I worked for minimum wage. In high school I had nothing to pay for but a cell phone. I worked for minimum wage and it seemed like I barely could afford it. I had basically no bills and I worked around twenty hours a week, and it seemed like I couldn't save any money. I always wondered how my coworkers, who were adults, who had real things to pay for pulled it off. After reading Barbara Ehrenrech's Nickel and Dimed it really made me wonder if the current minimum wage is really high enough.

First, I wanted to find out what minimum wage is. According to Google minimum wage is defined as, "A wage below which employers may not legally pay employees for specific kinds of employment." Next I wanted to know how the wage was calculated, So I searched and found a page on the International Labor Organization's page that listed the six criteria for setting the minimum wage. Criterion 1: the needs of workers and their families; Criterion 2: the general level of wages in the country; Criterion 3: the cost of living and changes therein; Criterion 4: social security benefits; Criterion 5: the relative living standards of other social groups; and Criterion 6: economic factors, including the requirements of economic development, levels of productivity and the level of employment. Now, I had heard of something called a living wage before and I was curious if it differed from the minimum wage and if so how. I learned the living wage is different and it is defined as: "At an absolute minimum, a living wage is the amount a person would need to earn to stay above the federal poverty level." Then I became interested in whether or not the current minimum wage was high enough to be considered the living wage. Unfortunately the minimum wage is only $5.15/ hour while, "The living...

Cited: "Frequently asked Questions about the Living Wage."Retrieved on December 11,2005. http://www.responsiblewealth.org/living_wage/qanda.html
Chapman, Jeff. "The Who and Why of the Minimum Wage." August 6, 2004. http://www.epinet.org/content.cfm/issuebrief201
"Frequently asked Questions." (updated December 2005) retrieved December 10. http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/issueguides_minwage_minwagefaq
"Ever Higher Society, Ever Harder to Ascend," (December 29, 2004) retrieved on December 10. http://www.economist.com/world/na/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3518560
"Minimum Wage Laws in the States – August 2005" retrieved on December 10. http://www.dol.gov/esa/minwage/america.htm#content
Pember, Robert J. Marie-Thérèse Dupré "BULLETIN OF LABOUR STATISTICS - SELECTION OF ARTICLES Statistical aspects of minimum wage determination" (originally published in the Bulletin of Labour Statistics, 1997-3). http://www.ilo.org/public/english/bureau/stat/publ/bulletin/artminw.htm
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