THE COST OF MINIMUM WAGE - Rallies were held across the US yesterday by thousands of fast food workers crying out that the minimum wage of $7.25 is insufficient to raise a family, forcing many of them to turn to the government for assistance. They are demanding that minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour.
Years ago, minimum wage was meant for the beginner, a newbie on the job and was not meant to support any type of lifestyle. Basically, jobs that earned minimum wage were geared towards teenagers and the inexperienced looking to gain a work ethic and experience so they could move on to bigger, better positions and pay rates.
There was a shift in the last fifteen years that led to employees earning minimum wage being of opposing ages; meaning both the teenager still in school and the retired senior who needed to supplement his Social Security.
According to statistics cited in news reports, today the average minimum wage earner is 25-35 years of age, the main breadwinner in the home and about 1/3 are single women with at least one child.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that you cannot live on $7.25 an hour, but the question that comes immediately to mind is: “Why have these young adults not moved onto better paying jobs?” What have they been doing with their time from when they were a teen and minimum wage was spending money that was appreciated; have they tried to further their education in any way or bothered to learn a trade?
Please, let’s not get into the old song and dance that there is no opportunity for school, because that is not true. There are multitudes of vocational schools, trade schools and community colleges that offer lower cost classes, tuition based classes and financial assistance all in the hopes of giving everyone the chance to learn a skill or trade.
The problem with many of these young adult minimum wage earners is that they simply want more out of life without working for it. I frequent many business that pay minimum wage or slightly higher and have been told countless times that the 30 and younger crowd will not work; they cannot get there on time, try to get out of doing any work while they are there, will not work any extra hours and do not take the time to call if they are not coming in or indeed if they have decided they do not like the job and are not coming back.
With attitudes and work ethics like this do they deserve $15 an hour; I think not. Now, these same establishments have told me that when an employee is reliable, hard-working and shows a good attitude they can and often do raise their pay. At the same time, if there is a position of higher responsibility, say as an assistant manager, that young person would be eligible before they would hire from outside the company.
Ask any adult in your life how they made ends meet when times were tough and they will give you one of two answers; cut your spending or increase your earnings. I realize that in today’s economy it is hard enough to find one job; let alone two and that there is nothing worse than having a pile of bills that you cannot afford to pay, but at some point each of us has had to take stock of how we were living our life and make serious changes.
Too many people are crying poor holding their smartphones in their manicured hands while driving a car that is less than 5 years old. They have not given up any extras; they still hit the restaurants at least once a week and yes, that includes pizza and take-out food.
They drink, smoke, have satellite on big screen TV’s and don’t seem to think twice about spending money for something they want, only to whine when they no longer have any to pay the bills. In other words, they are making poor choices and have not learned to effectively prioritize their finances.
This is not everyone and I do realize that there are those few who are just struggling. They have cut out every extra they can, taken jobs they didn’t want just to try and get by and still do not see opportunity coming their way. To them I say “Bravo. Keep up the good work; stay strong and soon things will improve.”
Should minimum wage be raised? Not to $15, but ideally it should be raised annually or at the least, bi-annually to reflect inflation and the cost of living.