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Les Minimumwage

17 Feb


I remember my first job back in 1973 working in a factory in New Jersey. I made 2 dollars an hour which at that time was the minimum wage and at the end of a 40 hour work week I brought home close to 80 dollars. That certainly doesn’t seem like much today but over the 12 weeks of the summer I earned enough money to put myself through a NJ State college.

If I tried to do that today on our current minimum wage of $7.25/hour I would fall about 9 thousand dollars short in tuition and fees at that same school.

But back in 1973 I was working alongside workers who were there working in that factory to make a  living for themselves and their families. Those workers were earning slightly more than I because I was only a summer employee but still their hourly wage was not that much more than mine and I couldn’t help but wonder how they did it…but they did.

This year, In his State of the Union speech, President Obama proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $9 per hour by the end of 2015. That would restore its real value to what it was at the beginning of the Reagan administration in 1981, which, by the way,  in constant dollars, would still be worth less than the 2 dollars per hour that I earned in 1973.

It would also mean that The lowest-paid U.S. workers would continue to lag behind their counterparts in many industrial countries because data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development  show nine nations where the minimum wage is more than $9 per hour.

Australia has the world’s highest minimum wage, at $16.91 an hour. France has boosted its level to $12.68 per hour, while U.K. workers earn at least $9.50 per hour. CNNMoney reports that “there are some developed economies with lower minimum wages than the United States, but not many.”

So my question is simply this:

Do you believe that in what is arguably the wealthiest nation on earth with the world’s largest economy that a worker who spends 40 hours at work each week for 50 weeks per year with 2 weeks of vacation should be able to earn enough money to support his/herself and a child on his/her wages alone, without additional government help in the form of food stamps, housing subsidies etc…

In other words should the minimum wage of the worker described above provide a salary commensurate to the basic costs of housing, health, transportation, utilities, food and childcare within the town, city, country in which he/she lives in the United States of America?

I do believe that it should. Otherwise why do we recommend working?

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