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home : opinion : letters to the editor May 3, 2016

3/13/2013 11:06:00 AM
American workers need a higher minimum wage

American workers need a higher minimum wage
An increase in the minimum wage is long overdue and should be raised to President Obama's proposed $9 an hour.
Americans working 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 only make $15,080 before taxes (40 hours x 52 weeks x $7.25 = $15,080). With a poverty line at $15,510 for two people, Americans who work 40 hours every single week cannot support themselves and a child.
In 2009, the federal minimum wage increase to $7.25 was the equivalent of $5.30 in 1996 dollars. Right now, the same $7.25 is equivalent to $4.97 in '96 dollars.
The real problem boils down to inaccurate misconceptions. Some will argue unemployment will rise with an increased federal minimum wage; however, past increases and many studies do not tie these two together.
"Mostly what we find . . . is that the net employment effect of an increase in the minimum wage is zero," Dr. Reynold F. Nesiba, an Associate Professor of Economics at Augustana College said.
Money going to families living on a minimum wage would have an immediate positive impact on the economy. The extra $3,640 a year is enough to pay for an extra 910 gallons of gas, four average house payments, or over half of a year's worth of groceries for a family of four.
This would, in effect, lower prices for everyone else in addition to taking strain off of government-aid programs such as SNAP (formally the Food Stamp Program), housing assistance, and other welfare assistance programs. Not to mention, extra income tax to a struggling federal government.
Politicians conjure up charts showing the negative effects of a minimum wage increase, but scholars like Dr. Nesiba point out the charts' errors.
"The simple supply and demand model that gets used to show a minimum wage causes unemployment is a deeply-flawed, ideologically-biased, and intentionally-misleading way of thinking about the minimum wage," Dr. Nesiba said.
The middle class has fallen far behind the top few percentiles in the United States. Right now in the United States, the top 1% has 40% of the nation's wealth. On the other hand, the bottom 80% of Americans only holds 7% of the nation's wealth.
It's time to rebuild the middle class in America by giving hard-working Americans an income that is enough to make ends meet. It's doing the right thing, in addition to helping the economy.
   - Thomas Elness

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