2 April 2014
Minimum Wage in the United States
The minimum wage in the United States was established in 1938 under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and has been amended numerous times since the original wage of $0.25 per hour; the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. The act makes it illegal to any employer to pay an employee under a federally mandated minimum wage, as well as regulates child labor and overtime hours and wages (DOL). In the past few years the debate on whether the minimum wage should be raised or not has become increasingly important to the United States’ economic status and its minimum wage workers. It has become increasingly difficult for college graduates to find jobs, and they are being forced to accept jobs that pay the minimum wage. The minimum wage in the United States needs to be raised to help narrow the gap between the lower and upper classes. Our middle class has gone from being one of the strongest in world decades ago to being weak and struggling. This has been caused by, in part, the minimum wage falling below the “living wage” and the fact that young college graduates are struggling to find jobs that they are qualified for, but not overqualified for. The Obama Administration has proposed a new amendment to the Far Labor Standards Act of 1938, which is now being reviewed by the congressional committee. Severe action has been called for by President Obama to raise the federal minimum wage floor, but many republicans in Congress oppose the bill causing a temporary halt to the process, which must be put back into motion. Millions of Americans support raising the minimum wage, and it is necessary to help ease income inequality and the large gap between the lower and upper classes.
Democrats have been pushing for congress to pass a bill that raises the minimum wage while many Republicans oppose the idea. The proposal from the Obama Administration to Congress is to “raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour over two-and-a-half years, in three steps on 95 cents each … More than 27 million Americans would receive a raise from raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour” (“Raise,” par. 6). In order to strengthen the American middle class, the minimum wage must be raised to help strengthen the lower class first; this would obviously create much more income for many American workers. The idea is to get Americans back to spending trends as when the economy was stabilized while being able to pay the bills and not having to worry as much about money. Raising the minimum wage increases consumer demand as low-income, mostly urban workers spend their wages at local businesses. Many businesses across the United States would be positively effected by this in the long run even though in the short run they may lose some profit and “would generate more than $22 billion in new economic activity, translating to 85,000 new full-time jobs, as higher sales lead businesses to hire employees” (“Raise,” par. 7). Millions of Americans would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage floor, many of whom currently live below the national poverty level. President Obama even mentioned in an address to the House that someone can earn the minimum wage and still not be able to make ends meet. It is sad to think that in “The Greatest Nation in the World” a full-time employee could still have to worry about putting food on the table and paying the bills on time.
Although a Gallup survey shows 71% of Americans support the increase, including 54% of conservatives, the majority of republican members, along with a minority of democrats, of Congress do not want this bill to pass. Their argument is understandable when the previous raise in the minimum wage from 2006-09 is looked at. The unemployment rate skyrocketed, and the American economy went into recession during this time frame, but there were many other factors involved. According to Nancy...
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