We’ve all worked for jobs at some point in our lives that pay minimum wage. I worked a few different ones to help support myself in college, and didn’t think much of it at the time. But when it comes to the millions of Americans who earn a living through minimum wage jobs, that’s a different story.
Just this week Seattle approved an increase to the city’s minimum wage to $15. Right now the federal minimum wage is $7.25, despite attempts earlier in the year to bump that number up to $10.10.
You may remember the president addressing the topic of raising the minimum wage in his state of the union address.
“Raising the minimum wage will make sure no family of four with a full-time worker has to raise their children in poverty. Do what you can to raise wages — it’s good for the economy, and it’s good for America.” – President Obama
Since then, some places have made progress on this front — while others have faced an uphill climb. Here are three things you ought to know about the battle to raise minimum wage as it stands today.
1. The race is on around the U.S.
Seattle’s move — estimated to impact more than 100,000 workers — is expected to begin affecting many large businesses in 2017 and expand to all businesses by 2021. Not that it’s a competition or anything, but that’s the highest in the U.S. But if you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you know that the race is on and it’s gaining momentum. Other cities including San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City are also proactive on the issue.
2. Companies and workers are getting more vocal.
Support for a higher minimum wage is slowly but surely rising in corporate America. For instance, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson recently hinted that the fast food giant would support a bill proposed by the president to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.
And just this week, news reports have been covering Wal-Mart protests that in part have to do with the wages of workers who struggle to make ends meet.
3. Change won’t come easy — or fast.
Change of this magnitude certainly brings its own set of challenges. Many claim that raising the minimum wage will end up hurting the economy because it will force companies to lay off workers or raise their prices. And then there are states like New York where this issue appears to be even more complex. According to The New York Times, “In New York State, local governments cannot set their own minimum wages. [Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo] has said that letting them do so could lead to a “’chaotic situation.’”
Tell us in the comments below: What are your thoughts on raising the minimum wage? What steps has your organization taken on this front?
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