Opinion The Counter Opinion: Should minimum wage equal living wage? By The New Political Posted on October 9, 2019 11 min read 0 0 243 Graphic by Maggie Prosser On Jan. 1, the minimum wage in Ohio will be bumped from the current amount of $8.55 to $8.70 per hour. The increase in the minimum wage is due to a 2006 Ohio constitutional amendment that requires a yearly increase. We asked our opinion writers to discuss their thoughts on the increase in the minimum wage and whether it should be different. Contributing are Charlotte Caldwell, a sophomore journalism major, Maddie Kramer, a junior political science major and Zach Richards, a sophomore education major. Should the minimum wage in Ohio be higher, lower or left alone? Zach: I like the idea of what Ohio is doing, which is increasing the minimum wage annually to reflect inflation. In fact, that’s what a lot of countries do. I do think the minimum wage should be higher, although I disagree with the idea of raising it all the way up to $15 an hour. Charlotte: It would make sense that the minimum wage would be similar across all states, but currently there are many states whose minimum wages are still reflective of the federal minimum wage. Until each state gets on board with raising the minimum wage, Ohio’s minimum wage should be left alone. Maddie: For a college student who already works a minimum wage job and another job only slightly above, it is a relief to see a bump in the minimum wage. While it is only a 15 cent increase, that extra little bit an hour helps for someone on a budget. It is important to continue to increase the minimum wage as the prices of goods increase. There was a 1.9% inflation rate in 2018 and it is estimated that it will be 1.7% for 2019. These rates indicate it is important to increase the minimum wage by this much as well. Even with the increase, an employee’s earnings will still be less than the federal poverty level. Should the minimum wage be a living wage? Zach: In general, yes, the minimum wage should be a living wage, especially for adults. With income inequality as bad as it is in this country, there’s no reason we can’t guarantee financial security to everyone who works 40 hours per week. Charlotte: The minimum wage should be considered a starting point and should provide an opportunity for employees to advance in the ranks. It should not be something that employees should stay stagnated at for years with no raise. This is why a minimum wage should not be considered a living wage. Raising the minimum wage to unreasonable amounts has been proven to be harmful to some aspects of the economies affected, like California, who passed their $15 hourly minimum wage law two years ago. The continuing impacts in this state are that it is greatly increasing labor costs in the small towns of California and it is costing taxpayers billions of dollars a year. Overall, it seems like the negatives outweigh the positives, so other states should take note. Maddie: A living wage is important, especially to college students in Ohio. Athens is the eighth poorest county in the United States, with the poverty rate at 54.4% including students. Excluding students, this number decreases to 23.1%. However, almost 1 in 4 citizens in Athens live below the poverty line. This number is shocking and supports the idea that workers should be paid a living wage. College students are here to learn and shouldn’t have to work two or three jobs to pay rent and pay off student debt. It is important for communities to invest in their citizens and workers who make the community run. This would be reflected in making the minimum wage a living wage. For employees at smaller companies and 14 and 15-year-olds, the state minimum wage is still $7.25 per hour. Is this fair? Zach: It seems fair for smaller companies to be granted an exception. There’s an argument to be made that it’s unfair to workers at smaller companies, but this incentivizes workers to work at larger companies that will pay them more. This would force smaller companies to pay their workers more if at all financially possible, producing, to a large part, the same effect as if they were legally required to pay their workers more. I don’t think the exception for 14 and 15-year-olds is fair, though, because a lot of 14 and 15-year-olds only work because their family needs the extra cash to financially survive, and it will help those families for those teenagers to be paid more. Charlotte: It makes sense that smaller companies would follow the lower minimum wage, but $7.25 is still a little low and unfair for people just because they work at a small business. Small businesses are important for our important for the U.S. economy because they generate 44% of economic activity. Many small businesses may be unable to pay their workers more than minimum wage, but the cost is that the small wage will drive employees away to bigger chains, which could put small companies out of business. 14 and 15-year-olds could stay at this wage, however, because some kids only have jobs to save up or to spend the money on things they want. Maddie: The main argument that people have against a living wage or higher minimum wage is that small businesses would not be able to afford it or teenagers who are beginning to work may not need a living wage. While this logic is flawed and many teenagers may have to work to support themselves due to an unstable home life, paying teenagers and those who work at small businesses a lower wage seems like a solid compromise between those who are asking for a living wage and those concerned for small businesses. The idea that teenagers do not have to work to support themselves is elitist and shows a disconnect between the older generation who may not be entrenched in student debt. It is important to encourage teenagers to work while in high school so that they can focus on their studies when they get to college and not have to focus on making a tuition payment. Please note that these views and opinions do not reflect those of The New Political.