The minimum wage should be a living wage

Arguing for the people who need to work a low-paying job full time over the summer

  • 2 min to read

In 2019, the Hawai‘i minimum wage is projected to be $15 per hour.

Now that summer is here, many college students will begin their summer jobs. Unfortunately, most of these jobs offer minimum wage or just barely above it. With needs like shelter, food, water and other necessities, college students will struggle to survive off of a job that pays minimum wage.

In the United States, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, although many states have adopted a higher local minimum. Hawai‘i’s minimum wage, for example, is $9.25

However, even if that wage is raised to $10 an hour, it is still not enough to support a person working full-time. In Honolulu, the minimum living wage for one adult is $15.78. In the United States as a whole, it is a bit higher at $15.84.

For college students, jobs that pay near or at minimum wage are all that is attainable – which is insane. Since the current minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25, a single adult would have to be paid more than double what many companies offer as minimum wage in order to support themselves.

The wage is too darn low

While adults under the age of 25 make up a little over 20 percent of the workforce, they simultaneously represent more than half the people who work at the federal minimum wage. This demonstrates that college-age people do not have a lot of higher-paying job opportunities, despite either currently pursuing a degree or having just received one.

Many of these jobs are in the food industry, and while they may be plentiful, they do not provide students with experience in their desired field of study. While these jobs are useful to society, they do not provide the necessary amenities to provide a young adult with a secure future.

Minimum Wage Factoid

What could happen if the wage is raised

Those that are opposed to raising the minimum wage claim that it will eliminate jobs, increase the price of goods, hurt small businesses and shut out inexperienced workers.However, there are plenty of counterpoints that contribute to a net positive effect for a minimum wage increase.

Increasing minimum wage could make more money readily available to middle-to-low class workers and, subsequently, spur economic growth. If people are paid more, they can spend more.

In 2013, the Economic Policy Center assessed the effects of increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 and found that it would increase the country’s GDP by $22 billion over the increase period. This increase in the GDP would permit the creation of 85,000 more jobs.

Some argue that the minimum wage has not kept up with inflation and that raising it would only bring it up to the standard that it should be at now. It would not increase anything other than the amount of money that a person earns, and there would be little to no noticeable change in the prices of goods – which sort of piggybacks on the previous idea that people would be able to buy more with what they have to spend.

Finally, if the minimum wage is increased, the inequality between the rich and the impoverished will likely decrease, if even slightly, resulting in a more equal and well-represented citizenship of the United States. 

Raising the minimum wage has some risk, but there is risk in most choices. If the reward is a more stable and equal economy, then I believe that the risk should be taken. Increasing the minimum wage will make America more comfortable for everyone.