Jordan Garcia
Copy Editor

What would you rather be earning? $7.25 an hour or $15 an hour? The answer to this question seems to be pretty obvious. However, many people look at a question like this too simply. Depending on the state, there is much more behind the seemingly great opportunity to be able to get paid more than double the norm per hour. What are the consequences? Benefits? Let’s discuss.

Many news outlets have reported that President Biden signed an executive order that would gradually raise the 2009-set federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, to $15 an hour. This new wage would be more than double the current set minimum. According to the Director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, Chuck Collins, “Boosting the federal minimum wage would lift millions out of poverty and serve as a huge additional pandemic stimulus boost for the entire economy. We have seen how many frontline essential workers are poorly paid and most vulnerable. Boosting their pay is both morally right and economically smart.”

If one looks at this situation from the same angle as Collins, it would seem that it is a no-brainer to raise the minimum wage, as it would better assist a large number of people, especially during this financially devastating time. Nonetheless, the bigger picture is being completely missed. President Biden having gone through with signing this executive order means that it will remain permanent for the remainder of his presidency; future presidents may change this if they wish. Keeping the minimum wage at $15 would, first of all, disrupt the wage hierarchy amongst different types of employees. Does it seem morally fair for someone who has been flipping burgers at a fastfood restaurant for 20 years to get paid the same amount as a new hire off the street? Not really.

A woman by the name of Gloria Machuca, who is a mother of six, has worked for the fast food chain McDonald’s for about 20 years. She told Insider that she would be all for the minimum wage raise, as she only makes $9.50 an hour at 80 hours a week, which is not enough to support herself and her family. “It would change my life a lot. Right now, I work all day and I rarely spend time with my family, my kids,” she said. Although the article does not state whether she ever moved up in position, or what she was even paid when she first began, it is unjust for Machuca to not currently even be making $10 an hour as a reward for her loyalty to the franchise.

Machuca’s case disproves the argument made earlier that people who have sustained their jobs longer will feel the minimum wage raise is unfair. Still, there is a bigger picture. Let’s say that most people, like Machuca, are fine with a very young adult making the same amount of money as they are. Fine then, but the details are being overlooked. The article attested that Machuca was a part of a group called Fight for 15, which supports the $15 minimum wage raise, and I do not blame her. McDonald’s took advantage of the fact that they had a faithful employee who did not want to risk a stable job that kept a roof over her family’s head. However, raising the minimum wage will not make life easier for people like Machuca without consequences, even if the majority of people agree it is not unfair for longer-standing employees.

According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, “Only about 30 percent of fast-food workers are teenagers. Another 30 percent are between the ages of 20 and 24. The remaining 40 percent are 25 and older.” Working at fast food restaurants, grocery stores, or similar jobs are commonly meant for people with little to no workforce experience — unless one plans on making it a career. Roping in, for the most part, the young adult generation at $15 an hour, may lead to an influx of people no longer viewing their minimum wage jobs as merely a stepping stone. Rather, many will likely become too comfortable with these generally ‘easy-to-get-into’ jobs and no longer desire to move up to higher positions because of the comfortable pay.

The point I am trying to make is that raising the minimum wage, especially at such a rapid speed, would further encourage young people coming into the workforce to stay where they are with their pleasant wage. The incentive to shoot for higher career paths, such as becoming a doctor, lawyer, attorney, etc., may start to lessen, as it is human nature to remain where we are most comfortable.

There are other cons that come with this decision as well. According to Investopedia, “Increased prices mean a general increase in the cost of living that could essentially negate any advantage gained by workers having more dollars in their pockets.” This statement corresponds to a multitude of things. If minimum wage goes up, naturally, all positions above minimum wage should go up as well. Otherwise, worker’s roles within a company are not distinct enough, and the motivation to work in those more demanding positions could drastically decrease. In addition, small businesses will suffer because they will be forced to compete with higher salaries offered by bigger mainstream companies and franchises.

What many do not realize is that the pros of this minimum wage raise order are purely surface level. On the onset, it will appear as if this is the solution to helping those like Machuca, who are struggling exponentially during the era of COVID-19. However, if it were easy to raise the minimum wage rapidly, it would have been done a long time ago. Something has to give or suffer in this type of situation. Again, that something would be small businesses struggling to keep their employees or hire additional ones as they compete against salaries offered by larger corporations. Even these bigger companies will be forced to compete, as raising the minimum wage will bring upon an influx of other businesses beginning to charge more for their products in order to make up for the money that is going towards raising the minimum wage. It seems to me that this “little to no impact” is hilariously false, as it may be far too early to determine future effects.

In conclusion, the minimum wage raise would only satisfy our needs temporarily. How long can the lives of others prosper if increasing the minimum wage will then increase the cost of everything else? What the U.S. needs for now is a temporary solution to assist those who are struggling financially, such as stimulus checks, and not a hasty change that could have permanent consequences — therefore defeating the purpose of the minimum wage raise in the first place. A wise saying to bring to mind in these types of situations is: “If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”

As of Jan. 26, 2021, lawmakers have introduced the order that would gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2025, and we currently await further updates. My hope is that a solution will come to light that will better help our country’s financial situation that would both improve and sustain a better lifestyle for all.

Featured Image: Emerson Little / Quaker Campus

Author

  • Jordan Garcia has worked for the Quaker Campus since 2020, and is currently a Copy Editor and part-time writer. She enjoys reading, listening to music (mostly KPop), crocheting, and wishing she could get to Narnia through her own magic wardrobe.

Jordan Garcia has worked for the Quaker Campus since 2020, and is currently a Copy Editor and part-time writer. She enjoys reading, listening to music (mostly KPop), crocheting, and wishing she could get to Narnia through her own magic wardrobe.

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