A Wager on Pay

Samuel Felice, Reporting Journalist

President Joe Biden, who took office just two weeks ago, proposes to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15, more than doubling what the federal minimum wage sits at now. This pay raise would lift approximately 1.3 million minimum wage workers out of poverty. This process however would not occur overnight.  Joe Biden proposes that this pay rise happen over a four year process. Many of his financial advisers also argue that this is a good way to show our gratitude to the essential workers who’ve worked through this entire pandemic. The idea of raising the minimum wage seems to reap nothing but benefits, but in reality may cost millions of Americans their jobs.

Although many states such as California and Washington have slowly started to reach the $15 minimum wage mark, many critics still believe that we may be hurting the economy rather than helping. This is because many businesses who have plunged deep into debt are counting on the coming months after the pandemic to profit and make back what they have lost. These business owners would then have to pay their employees almost twice as much as they had previously, which could cause many to fall into debt and eventually go out of business. Increasing the minimum wage would force the businesses that have not already gone out of business to let go some of their employees in order to stay profitable; in many ways, increasing the minimum wage would actually harm the economy more than help.

The effects of this national raise in pay would be varying. Some economists have found that a higher minimum wage will have no or negligible effects on the unemployment rates of certain regions. However, on the other hand, many rural states such as Mississippi will be largely affected by this change. About half of the workers in Mississippi make $15 an hour or less. This may seem like a benefit because about half of the workforce will get a pay raise, but it may in turn cause many people to lose their jobs due to the inability of businesses to pay their employees this increased amount. This may also affect our lives too. If companies are forced to increase pay, then they will also be forced to raise their prices. A one dollar McDonald’s cheeseburger may no longer just be one dollar. This change could be more serious than it seems and could affect our lives as well.

This national raise in pay has been debated for years and rightfully so: this decision will likely change our economy forever. This change could help make millions of lives better, or it could prompt millions of businesses to evaporate. Whether you agree or disagree with this call to increase the national minimum wage, the outcome will shape the future of the U.S. economy.