Increase Minimum Wage

The minimum wage was first enacted into law as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938. The original minimum wage applied to workers engaged in interstate commerce and the production of goods for interstate commerce. In 1938, this applied to roughly 11. 0 million workers out of a total of 54. 9 million workers. The minimum wage was set at $0. 25 per hour. However, by 1966 the minimum wage $1. 25 and applied to virtually all workers. In its beginnings, the minimum wage was set at a value that was high enough for a person to live off of (Valetta 3).

However, in recent years someone who works a job that pays minimum wage will fall well below the poverty line. Therefore, instead of somebody working three jobs to support their family, a large increase in the minimum wage is a necessity. In essence, I do not believe that there should be a minimum wage; there instead should be a livable wage. American workers are paying for continuously rising costs of goods and services, yet those who earn low wages have gone seven years with no action by Congress to raise the minimum wage to help them meet those costs.

For too many working families a full-time job does not provide enough money to support a family. Raising the minimum wage would increase families' ability to pay for necessities such as childcare, housing, food and medicine. The annual income of an individual working full-time, with two children, at the $5. 15 an hour minimum wage leaves them $4,100 below the poverty level. An increase in the minimum wage to $10. 00 would benefit over 10. 2 million children living in households where a worker earns between the current minimum wage and $10. 00 per hour (Edith 1).

Because the minimum wage is not fixed for inflation, its purchasing power has decreased over time. The seven years since the last increase is the second longest period, which Congress has failed to increase the minimum wage. As a result of the unchanging minimum wage, a full-time minimum wage paycheck, which would have kept a family of three above the poverty threshold during most of the 1960s and 1970s, provides an annual income that is not even three-quarters of the poverty line in 2003(Miller 1). Many of the 12. 1 million American children living below the poverty line would benefit from such an increase.

The current earnings of a single parent working full-time at minimum wage covers only 42 percent of the estimated cost of raising two children. This is down from 48 percent in 1997 when the minimum wage was last raised. If the minimum wage were raised to $10. 00 per hour, it would cover a much greater percent of the costs of raising two children, a significant improvement for working families (Michl 4). Contrary to a common perception, minimum wage jobs are not reserved for teens. In fact, most minimum wage workers are adults, and many are the key breadwinners in their families.

Recent research shows that moderate increases in the minimum wage can help boost the earnings of many working poor families, including families leaving welfare for work. This will occur without resulting in a loss of job opportunities. Children with a parent working full time at minimum wage still live below the poverty line. More than half of poor Americans experience serious poverty, such as lack of food, utility shutoffs, crowded housing, or lack of a stove or refrigerator. Recent years have shown the economic toll of allowing children to grow up poor, and of the high payoff to ending child poverty.

Poor children are at least twice as likely as non-poor children to suffer stunted growth or lead poisoning, or to be kept back in school. Poor children score significantly lower on reading, math and vocabulary tests when compared with otherwise-similar non-poor children. Nearly one out of ten children in the United States live in households that would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage to $10. 00 per hour. Such an increase would help to reduce child poverty (Cox 2). Many parents work a 40-hour week but do not earn enough to pay for their families' basic necessities.

According to the Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Project, low-income parents may need to alternate paying bills every other month, risk bad credit, utility cutoffs or eviction, move into substandard housing, compromise on the quality of child care, or skip meals so their children will be able to eat (Edith 3). In addition to being fiscally smart to raise the minimum wage, it would also be politically intelligent being that there is strong public support for helping low-income workers to meet their families' needs and advance economically. This is according to a W. K.

Kellogg Foundation poll and a survey conducted by Jobs for the Future. The poll found broad support for the idea that work should pay enough to support a family. In the JFF survey, 94 percent of Americans agree, "as a country, we should make sure that people who work full-time should be able to earn enough to keep their families out of poverty. " Some 77 percent in the Kellogg poll agreed that government should help families that leave welfare for work but remain poor (Sklar 5) When a family is impoverished, it is very difficult for them to single-handedly empower themselves to locate a high paying job.

One main reason for this lies in the unfair minimum wage. When somebody is poor, and they wish to go to work they should not be rewarded with an amount of money that is impossible for them to live off of. However, if the minimum wage were to be increased to $10. 00 an hour, it would make it possible for people currently living under the poverty line to rise above it. In conclusion, it is only humane to increase the minimum wage. For if it is not increased, people who are unfortunate enough to be poverty stricken will always remain destitute.