The Bare Minimum: A Look into the Fair Minimum Wage Act

How raising the minimum wage by almost three dollars might affect you

Patrick Rudy
Staff Writer

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Over the years, the U.S. economy could be labeled as inconsistent. Something that has increased steadily in the U.S. economic growth is the national minimum wage. From day one of the program, the national minimum wage has fluctuated from $0.25 up to $7.25, with the average over the years residing at $6.60 in terms of 2013 dollars, according to heritage.org. Tom Harkin, a Senator from Iowa, along with George Miller, a Representative from California, have proposed that the minimum wage be raised to $10.10 by 2015. They claim that this would be a fair increase to the working man. While this may seem like a positive progression, one must consider the consequences that would follow.

For starters, increase in pay usually brings inflation. So, while there may be a nice raise for average working guys, there follows a rise in price of consumer goods, which is not so nice.  Another thing is the fact that if companies are forced to pay higher minimum wages, then there are fewer funds left for companies to pay their employees on minimum wage, resulting in possible unemployment. According to nytimes.com, if the minimum wage was raised, as proposed, to $10.10 an hour, we would bring about 900,000 people out of poverty, but we would also reduce total employment by 500,000 workers. Lastly, we must recognize the consequences of enforcing a national minimum wage while trying to avoid impeding on state’s rights. What might be considered a livable wage in one state, might not work for others.

On our very own campus, this would mean that the jobs offered through the university would more than likely reduce the ability to hire as many students. However, in terms of those living in poverty (a.k.a. college students), this increase might pull them out of homelessness or malnourishment. Dr. Abraham Goldberg, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Upstate, offered his opinion on the matter. “Generally speaking I think the income gap in the country is a real problem, as is the heartbreaking stories of people who are having a difficult time climbing out of poverty despite their very hard work,” he stated. When questioned on the proposal by Miller and Harkin, Goldberg said that he was, “interested in any proposal from either side of the [political] aisle that addresses those issues in a productive way.”

Whether or not you think this bill should be passed, something we can all agree on is that this country is in need of some economic answers. Most of us would likely agree with Goldberg in the sense that we need sympathy and open-mindedness on this ever-growing economic issue.

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