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Opinion: It is time for America to get a raise

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While many Americans are going back to work and finding jobs, it would make sense for everyone to get a raise. President Obama has been calling for a minimum wage increase recently to $10.10 an hour. It sounds fitting to help many Americans spend more money in the economy and be able to get ahead, right? Obviously, it’s a good decision. Shockingly, the corporation Wal-Mart is stepping up to improve the quality of life for their employees. Wal-mart announced last week they would be raising their hourly wage to $9 an hour. Additionally, the corporation giant said they would up the ante in 2016, making hourly pay $10.

For a corporation like Wal-mart to step up to the plate, it begs me to wonder how long it will  take Congress to follow suit. According to the president, we should raise the national minimum wage by $2.85. With that extra money under Obama’s plan, a citizen of Arizona, for example, could afford one of the following; 4 months of rent, 24 weeks of groceries, 68 tanks of gas, or the equivalent of 31 months of electricity. With just the extra $2.85, a full-time worker could truly benefit. At this moment you are probably thinking, what about increases in the cost of living? The cost of living is increasing right now. I am not saying it will not increase with an increase in minimum wage. However, we are experiencing cost of living increases such as food prices each and every day with little increase in wages.

Looking at last year, our country suffered from increases in food prices. At this time last year in both February and March, we experienced a 0.4 percent increase in retail food prices. Two steaks at Costco in September of 2013 went from $27 to $38 this time last year. Middle class Americans are not able to get ahead when they cannot balance this out. Employers are not required by law to make up for increases in inflation with a Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA), thus making people think they are making a decent wage, when in reality, inflation is not even accounted for.

Looking at the Ohio’s 15th Congressional district, home to Athens County, 57,000 workers would benefit from a $2.85 increase. The majority of beneficiaries are women. Women, who already deal with wage discrimination. The 15th district has 9 percent of its residents living in poverty.

It is time for Congress to step up and develop a compromise. Women in our country are discriminated against every day by wage inequality. Everyone faces higher costs of living, especially in food. The conservative mind sees a raise for individuals who do not deserve it. They say individuals cheat the system of food stamps and unemployment. So why won’t they help people that are working? Employers are not required to implement COLA in their hourly pay and salaries in the U.S. Congress and President George W. Bush raised the minimum wage in 2007. So now Obama is running the show and Republicans hold the majority in Congress, it is silly to raise the minimum wage. It is time to help impoverished individuals and middle class Americans in this great country and give them the raise they deserve.

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