Gale in Context: Opposing Viewpoints

Samuel Mills, Staff Writer

Raising minimum wage is a big point of contention in the United States, and Americans are divided between wanting to raise it and wanting it to stay how it is. Teenagers entering the workforce could benefit from being informed on this issue because they will most likely experience minimum wage jobs themselves. All of us might need to consider whether we think the minimum wage is high enough, if raising the minimum wage would help Americans, and if raising the minimum wage effectively is even possible.

Proponents of a higher minimum wage argue that it is not currently adequate. According to an article by Helaine Olen, the minimum wage is actually “lower than it was 50 years ago” when adjusted for inflation. Olen also wrote that 40 million American workers would benefit from raising the minimum wage. For reference, the population of the United States is around 330 million, so those supporting the raising of minimum wage think that it would benefit about one in eight Americans. Not only would raising the minimum wage help people pay their bills, but some also believe that it would improve their mental health. In one article, Bill Gardner wrote that in one specific instance, “the effect of the wage increase was about as large as taking an antidepressant medication.” Finally, it is argued that raising the minimum wage is entirely possible because it has been done before. The Opposing Viewpoints database, which contains information from both perspectives on many controversies, claims that the American minimum wage was raised from five dollars and fifteen cents to seven dollars and twenty-five cents in 2009, which, as of early 2021, is still the minimum wage in most parts of the United States.

Raising the minimum wage is not universally considered a good idea, though; opponents of raising it say that it is high enough as it is. The Opposing Viewpoints database claimed that the poverty line for one individual is an estimated $13,000, whereas a minimum wage worker working forty hours a week for a year would make an estimated $15,000, successfully keeping them above the poverty line. Those against the raise also point out instances where raising the minimum wage appeared to not actually benefit workers. A study conducted in Seattle found that “[raising minimum wage] had a negative impact on employment and low wage earnings. Hours worked dropped by 9 percent… reducing… monthly earnings.” Unlike proponents, people on this side of the issue think that raising the minimum wage again is not possible to do effectively. In an article by Jarrett Stepman, it is written that California has struggled after raising minimum wage in parts of the state, with ten percent of restaurants with raised wages closed shortly after. These points all contribute to the argument against raising the minimum wage.

Minimum wage is a hot topic for a reason, and as a new generation enters our country’s workforce, everyone may want to think critically about how they feel the minimum wage should be. Is it high enough? Would raising it help Americans? Is it even possible to raise it effectively? For more information, readers are encouraged to investigate the sources at the end of this article.


Sources (in order):|PC3010999333&it=r