The Beacon Bolt is a publication of the student body of Northwest Christian University. $9.25 an hour to $15 an hour is a 62% increase in labor cost. On Wednesday February 11, the Oregon Senate approved a measure that will start to gradually raise the minimum wage rates, until 2022 when Portland’s rate would be set at $14.75 an hour, other urban counties at $13.50 and rural counties at $12.50. As a broke college student, working a minimum wage job, I understand how appealing this proposal sounds, but as I begin to evaluate the consequences of such a change in our local economy, questions begin to arise.
How will grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, retail stores and other commercial businesses stay alive when the minimum wage is raised? How can they afford to stay open? These commercial businesses will stay open by doing either or both of two things, cutting employees and raising product prices immensely. Although raising minimum wage seems to be the solution for helping the lower income population, will they even exist to reap the reward if such measures are taken? The population of such workers might be devastatingly cut, causing only further unemployment to our great country. Financial investigations have shown a causal link between job loss and minimum wage spikes. The Congressional Budget Office even stated that a minimum wage of just over $10 an hour could cost half a million jobs, so picture the loss if it’s changed to $15.
Many people are in favor of the wage raise, claiming that it is the fair and right thing to do for minimum wage workers because who can live on $9.25 an hour? Well, if minimum wage goes up to $14.75, then the price of everything goes up along with it. Those who can’t afford the basic necessities of life currently, will be in the same or a worse position after the prices go up. Imagine this, you have two cups and they are equally half full of water, if you pour water from cup one, into cup two, cup two will have immense gains, while cup one will be left with less than they had before, this is the problem with raising minimum wage. Those who are fighting for the raise, protest that everyone deserves a comfortable living, but if minimum wage begins to rise, so does the cost of a “comfortable living.”
I don’t argue the fact that it’s hard to live off of minimum wage, I work a minimum wage job, but there is a solid reason it is so. Minimum wage was never meant to be your lifetime salary, that’s why they are referred to as “minimum wage jobs” and not careers. People aren’t meant to live off of them and never have been.
Matt Walsh, a writer for The Blaze, says that if the minimum wage around the country continues to be raised, fast food workers who flip burgers will easily out-earn fire-fighters. I am not disregarding those who are in the food-service industry, I know those jobs can be tough and I greatly appreciate not having to cook dinner seven days a week. But America, are we that commercially biased to think that the value of burgers should be placed higher than some of our self-sacrificing national heroes? He also states that these minimum wage workers would also be making more or equal to police officers, auto mechanics, biochemists, teachers, geologists, roofers and bank tellers. These same fast food workers, would ironically have starting salaries higher than many professional chefs.
Possibly you can’t connect to chefs, teachers, roofers etc. so let me connect the statistics to college students. CBS News states that the average 21-24 year old college graduate with a bachelor’s degree makes an average hourly salary of $16.81, but if you only take the average of the women with the same degrees, in the same age range, its $15. So not only are you a graduate who has worked for 4+ years to better your future and earn the same as any minimum wage worker, but you also have tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Food for thought.