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Should there be a minimum wage? Is it time to raise the federal minimum wage? How might this be a good or bad thing? For whom?
Is it time to raise the federal minimum wage? President Obama endorsed the idea in his State of the Union address. He called for increasing the federal minimum wage in stages from $7.25 to $9 by the end of 2015, and then linking further increases to the rising cost of living. Right now for most workers it is set at $7.25, where it has been since 2009. This adds up to $15,080 per year which is just about equal to the poverty level for a family of two.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, 19 states and the District of Columbia have a minimum wage above the federal level.
The Lowdown presents the key arguments in favor and against raising the minimum wage.
The arguments in favor:
Since the economy has grown, wealth should be shared…. Full-time workers deserve to earn a living wage and be able to afford basic necessities like food, gas, and health care. It would boost the economy by increasing purchasing power, creating the need for more production and consequently more jobs. This would reduce dependence on social services. It is only fair since corporate profits have grown making the gap between rich and poor wider.
The arguments against:
It would hurt those it intends to help…. Raising the minimum wage would hurt already struggling small businesses by increasing their overall costs. Many American businesses might cut workers’ hours and outsource jobs to countries where labor is significantly cheaper. This would increase the unemployment rate, especially among younger workers.