Why the Minimum Wage Should be Raised.
Ted Kennedy once said that no one who works a forty-hour week fifty-two weeks a year should live in poverty (Rankin). One way to help ensure that a diligent worker never lives in poverty is with a sufficient minimum wage. Described as the lowest wage paid to an hourly employee by law (Mish 741), the minimum wage is important to many American households. With the current federally regulated minimum wage rate at $5.15 per hour (Bernstein), many American households are finding it hard to live outside of poverty. Because those who make minimum wage can barely pay bills, feed their children, and clothe themselves, the minimum wage should be raised so that they can afford these basic necessities.
When President Franklin Roosevelt first enacted the 25-cent per hour minimum wage in 1938, it was meant to be a "living wage". A "living wage" was one that would maintain all worker's health, and general well being (Teichner). When the minimum wage was first enacted during the late 1930's the concerns of businessmen were the same concerns that they face today. Their concerns are and were that a minimum wage, or the increase thereof, would drive up the cost of doing business and in turn force the lay off of thousands of workers. While this concern is a worthy one, it has been disproved. During the minimum wage increase of 1996 and 1997, the unemployment rate in the United States actually fell (Bernstein), disproving any worry that a raise causes the layoff of workers.
It has been said that a worker's occupation most often determines the reward that will be received for his or her work (United States 33). Many people, regardless of how hard they work, have limited choices for jobs that they are qualified to perform. With this in mind, both Republicans and Democrats have supported legislation with the goal of raising the minimum wage. Republicans have supported legislation aimed at raising the minimum wage over a period of three years, while the Democrats have supported legislation aimed at raising the minimum wage over a much shorter period (Rosenbaum).