Assessing the Minimum Wage

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Ian Remson Fisher Writing Workshop 4-25-2011 Assessing the Minimum Wage One of politicians’ favorite solutions for helping the poor people of America is to raise the minimum wage. The minimum wage is the lowest amount permitted by law which one might be paid (typically by the hour) for work. Currently, the federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 per hour. Many states also have a minimum wages set at different standards from that of the federal minimum wage. If such conflict arises, the higher minimum wage—state or federal—is the minimum wage for workers in that state. Proponents of raising the wage argue that workers should have more spending power than they currently do. This can then help to stimulate the economy by increasing consumption among those minimum wage workers. The idea, however, that a raise in the minimum wage helps the poor is actually a misconception. Raising the minimum wage is a very ineffective and indirect aid to the poor that often does more harm than good. The first problem with such a policy is that of the actual populace that tends to work a minimum wage job. Although an estimated 2.2% of workers earn the minimum wage in the United States, a large percentage of those people are young. More than half of all minimum wage workers are between 15 and 24, and nearly 73% are below the age of 34. Also a large majority (over 80%) of minimum wage workers are either working in the service industry and receive tips, or work minimum wage in a part-time job—working more than one job or attending school at the same time ( Obviously, minimum wage workers do not necessarily correspond with the lower class. This discrepancy shows that just a simple hike in the minimum wage is an inefficient means of helping the poor. There are other reasons that this policy is not effective. When lawmakers pass ordinances increasing the minimum wage, they do
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