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Reflections on Whether America Needs a Minimum Wage Increase

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“No man can be a good citizen unless he has a wage more than sufficient to cover his basic cost of living” (Roosevelt, 1910). This quote as used in a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt, when giving a speech about what he called ‘new nationalism’. In this speech he spoke about setting a minimum wage for employers that they must pay to their workers Since 2009 the minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour or about $823 after taxes. In 2016 president Barack Obama addressed the nation about raising the minimum wage to 10.10 an hour, after some time many looked at a good goal to be $15 an hour. While many argue that this is a bad idea, there are many reasons such as the loss of jobs, reducing incentive for education, and rising prices for consumer goods. These points can be disputed with a look at how the working class is currently being affected.

Firstly, it will make employers less likely to hire and lose about 500,000 jobs because of the higher rate of pay employers will be less likely to hire people they will have to pay more. An estimated 82 million people work for hourly wage, which comes to 59% of all workers in the U.S. From those people 4.9% have 2 or more jobs (Forbes, 2018). When doing the calculations that’s still a little more than 4 million workers. If the minimum wage were raised a good amount of those workers would no longer need 2 or more jobs and that would open more jobs for those who are unemployed.

Think about if there were a 22-year-old who works 2 minimum wage jobs, getting paid 7.25 an hour, working about 60 hours a week. At the end of the month after taxes the paychecks come to about $1,375 a month, after taxes, coming to about 16,500 a year. This still puts that 22-year-old well under the nation’s poverty line of $25,750 a year. This 22-year-old represent many of the workers in our country. If we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour then many people will be getting about $1,860 a month for 40 hours a week. At 22,320 a year many of those people will be able to successfully live off one job opening many more jobs.

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Secondly, it will reduce the amount of young people who will want to seek a higher education. Many argue that if the nation increasing minimum wage would make many people no longer want to seek higher education because they will be fine where they are and see no reason to seek further improvement. When it comes down to it 83% of Americans say they cannot afford college. Only about 16% of low-income families, or families who earn less than $39,500 a year, can afford to send their children to college. This is because many of those students cannot pay the tuition rates that often exceed their own yearly earnings, nor want to end up in debt from student loans. Raising minimum wage would allow more people to afford the costs of seeking higher education and moving to higher paying jobs. In the end raising minimum wage would also allow more people to have lower student loan debts and give more workers a reason to go to college including the growing number of younger people who are becoming independent and must pay for everything themselves.

Thirdly, increasing minimum wage would cause many employers to raise prices to cover the cots needed to pay employees. Many worry that if we raise minimum wage, it will make prices go up because the employers are needing to pay more to keep up with the minimum wage rate. the simple fact is costs of consumer goods are going to continue to rise anyway. In 2010 the cost of a burger at McDonald’s was about $0.89 in 2018 the cost of that same burger is now 1.09 and the sizes has gone down. Keep in mind that the minimum federal minimum wage has not risen, many states and cities have risen it, but in the end many workers still only receive this $7.25 an hour. Inflation has always been an issue and while increasing minimum wage may cause the prices to rise, they are rising anyway.

Think about it like this if a single mother has 4 children and works for minimum wage at 2 jobs for 70 hours a week. She will end up with about $1,660 a month. Even if she found a place to rent for $1,400 a month, being right under national average. With utilities being about $100 a month. She would only have about with $260 for all other expenses for herself and 4 children. Back in 2009 when the average cost of rent was $886 a month this made much more sense, yet even with no increase of minimum wage prices have continued to rise.

In conclusion, the federal minimum wage will cause change, but most of the change will be needed. It will allow workers to better support themselves, which was the idea first presented by Roosevelt when the nation first created minimum wage.

Works Cited

  1. BECKHUSEN, Julia. “About 13M U.S. Workers Have More Than One Job”. The United States Census Bureau, 16 July 2019,
  2. Jitchotvisut, Janaki. “Here’s What a Fast-Food Burger Cost the Year You Were Born”. Insider, 28 Sept. 2018,
  3. Musto, Pete. “Low-Income Students See Low Graduation Rates”. Voice of America, 2017,
  4. “Pros & Cons –”. Minimum Wage, 2019,
  5. Slack, Megan. “From the Archives: President Teddy Roosevelt’s New Nationalism Speech”. National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, 2011,
  6. Stoll, Ira. “9 Reasons Why Raising the Minimum Wage Is a Terrible Idea”., Reason, 3 Mar. 2014,

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