Minimum wage: does raising it help?

Category:  Opinions
Thursday, February 21st, 2019 at 10:17 AM

When I was 16 in 2006, I started working at a KFC/Taco Bell. During that time, the minimum wage was at $5.15 an hour. That was huge for me since before that job I was just a freeloading teenager. As I was getting older, I learned $5.15 is not going to pay the bills. It was also during that time that a huge debate over raising the minimum wage was moving across the nation. Thus, it began the series of jumps the minimum wage would get between 2006 to 2008.

The first raise in Pennsylvania was slated for January 2007. It was to go up to $6.25. I was ecstatic. I mean, now I got $1 more an hour. Then, the second raise was announced for 2008, which would bring it up to $7.25 an hour. Everyone I worked with felt relief. “Finally, a livable wage,” some of the older workers would say. Young me could not wait to get paid.

The first month of 2008 was great. I actually had some money to play with until things changed. I was at work when it happened at KFC/Taco Bell. The whole menu board was changed. All of the prices were significantly raised. Things got worse after getting out of work. I noticed it was everywhere. It was as if the wage change made no difference.

Gas prices seem to take a hit as well. In 2006, gas prices were ranging around $2.30 to $3 per gallon. When 2008 started, the prices suddenly swelled. It went as high as $4.11 per gallon.

During this time, something even bigger took place. The market suddenly went through a burst. Much like The Great Depression in 1929, people were borrowing too much. This caused the banks to fail and needing bailed out. These events would be called The Great Recession of 2008.

Now, what does this history lesson have to do with the minimum wage today? Well, Governor Tom Wolf has been pushing for a minimum wage raise for a while. He has proposed as high as $15 per hour. My question is, should we raise the minimum wage? If so, where should it be raised to?

My little history with the minimum wage has taught me one thing; if they raise the wage, they could raise everything else too. Governor Wolf wants a “livable wage,” but how can that happen when the market may have to change as well? Unfortunately, for “dead end jobs” like fast food restaurants, I do not think there is such a thing as a livable wage. These jobs are meant for teenagers as a starter job who still live with their parents. The next transition is to be in a college-level job.

It is also unfortunate many do not make it to this level. Mostly, this is because there are no jobs in the field they are trying to get in to. With college bills and no jobs in their field, they have no choice but to go back to a “dead end” job.

Does this mean we should raise the minimum wage? What if another Great Recession happens and another 8.7 million jobs are lost? These people need something to live off of.

What are your thoughts? Should we raise the minimum wage? Let me know.

Beau Bruneau |

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