One problem with all Americans making a minimum of $15 an hour is that some business owners don’t make $15 an hour.
Hundreds of thousands of small business owners struggle every day to keep the lights on and the doors of their business open. The only way they can afford help is with people who are willing to work for a low wage. This is tough for all. In most cases the business owner would like to pay more and the employee needs to make more.
You can’t economically survive on $290 a week. Apartment rent can easily be $500 to $3000 a month depending on where you live. Add utilities, cell phone, transportation and you can forget eating much if any. The reality is that minimum-wage workers can barely survive. They end up applying for public assistance, standing in food bank lines and eventually face deteriorating health and often homelessness. You cannot care for yourself on $7.25 an hour. Living out of your car or in a tent is not the American dream.
It is time for a federal minimum-wage increase. Eleven to $12 an hour would be a push for many small business owners but we all need to push and try to get there together. Eventually everything goes up in price but it’s some relief for millions of Americans in the short term. Even $12 an hour is only $480 a week, but if you are surviving on $290 per week it would have to seem like winning the lottery. However, consider the impact this will have on a mom and pop business that has five employees and suddenly the payroll has just jumped by almost $1,000 more per month. It will be tough. A $15 minimum wage means $600 a week or more than doubling everyone’s pay. How many businesses in America can just flip the switch and double everyone’s pay?
If you are the employee you are desperate for higher wages. If you are the employer you worry about how you will pay the higher wage.
The Congressional budget office reported the higher $15 minimum wage would lift 900,000 out of poverty. On the other hand, the same CBO reported 1.4 million would lose their jobs by 2025.
The only place in America who currently has a $15 minimum-wage is Washington, D.C. If you have ever gone out to eat in D.C. then you know $15 an hour is not enough in that town. Washington State is $13.69. California is $14. New York is $12.50. West Virginia is $8.75. Kentucky is $7.25. Indiana is $7.25. Texas is $7.25. Florida will be $10 soon. Utah is 7.25.
The bottom line for us all is do not settle for any minimum-wage forever. Work hard for a promotion or move to a better paying job. Minimum means a starting job rate. It doesn’t have to mean your maximum pay rate forever.
Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books including Uncommon Sense. His column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states.