Featured Media Resource: VIDEO: Do You Understand the Minimum Wage Debate? (Citizen Tools)
View a non-partisan explanation of the history and current status of the minimum wage debate.


Do Now U

Do you think the federal minimum wage should be increased?  #DoNowUWage


How to Do Now

To respond to the Do Now U, you can comment below or post your response on Twitter. Just be sure to include #DoNowUWage and @KQEDedspace in your posts.


Learn More about Raising the Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. Many people believe that it should be substantially higher and others believe that increasing it would harm small businesses and the economy.

According to Heather Boushey, Executive Director and Chief Economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, raising the minimum wage is an important anti-poverty measure. A person earning the current minimum wage and working a 40-hour week makes $15,080 per year, which is barely above the poverty line for a single adult and is well below it for someone supporting children. The most recent proposal to increase the federal minimum wage would  have raised it to $10.10 per hour, though it didn’t pass. More than half of the states (including the District of Columbia) already have higher minimum wages than the federal minimum wage. The District of Columbia is currently the highest at $10.50/hour. There has been discussion lately about increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, which would bring a family relying on a single wage-earner above the poverty line.

Minimum wage laws in the states as of January 1, 2016

Some sources cite growing income inequality and the shrinking middle class as a reason to raise the minimum wage. The Pew Research Center defines a household as “middle-income” if it earns between 67 and 200 percent of the state’s median income, and for many years America was a predominantly middle-class nation. But by 2015, only about half of adult Americans were living in middle-income households, with 29% below that and 21% above. Income inequality adversely affects life expectancy. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in the 1980s, wealthy Americans lived 2.8 years longer than the poor, but by the 1990s, when the income gap had widened, the rich were living 4.5 years longer than the poor. Income also plays a significant role in a person’s education, and vice versa. Simply put, the higher the education level, the higher the income. In 2009, people with professional degrees earned, on average, more than six times as much as people who did not graduate from high school: $128,000 versus $20,000. With the cost of higher education continuing to rise, a college degree is out of reach for many people from low-income families, making the gap even worse.

Those on the other side of this debate believe that raising the minimum wage would hurt small businesses, which would not be able to pay their employees. Businesses might even have to close, and employees would lose their jobs. There would be fewer job opportunities because businesses would be doing as much hiring. So, while employees who kept their jobs would be making more money, unemployment would rise. Raising minimum wage could also cause inflation, since business owners would have to make up for increased labor costs by raising prices. Therefore, the cost of living would increase, and the value of the new minimum wage would decrease.

Do you support increasing the federal minimum wage? Why or why not?


More Resources

Article: ProCon.org
Should the Federal Minimum Wage Be Increased?
This article provides background information on the history of the minimum wage and discusses current arguments for and against increasing it.

Article: Washington Center for Equitable Growth
Understanding How Raising the Federal Minimum Wage Affects Income Inequality and Economic Growth
This article is the testimony of the executive director and chief economist of the Washington Cto the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in favor of a higher minimum wage.

Video: WSJ Video
Opinion Journal: Why Wage Hikes Increase Poverty
A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute explains why he thinks increasing the federal minimum wage will hurt lower-income Americans.

Video: London School of Economics and Political Science
Designing a Minimum Wage to Reduce Poverty and Wage Inequality
A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute explains why he thinks increasing the federal minimum wage will hurt lower-income Americans.

Article: New York Times
How the $15 Minimum Wage Went from Laughable to Viable
Read a recent history of the minimum wage debate.

Video: PBS NewsHour
Is a $15 Minimum Wage a Boon or a Risk for Low-Paid Workers?
California and New York have recently approved increases in the minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next few years. Hear a discussion about the potential consequences.


Go here for best practices for using Do Now, using Twitter for teaching, and using other digital tools.


This post was written by Samuel Baker, Annaleigh Benoit, Koran Dunbar and Elizabeth Jones-Thomas, students at Pennsylvania State University, Mont Alto.

KQED Do Now U is a bi-weekly activity in collaboration with SENCER. SENCER is a community of transformation that consists of educators and administrators in the higher and informal education sectors. SENCER aims to create an intelligent, educated, and empowered citizenry through advancing knowledge in the STEM fields and beyond. SENCER courses show students the direct connections between subject content and the real world issues they care about, and invite students to use these connections to solve today’s most pressing problems.

  • Bridget Trogden

    This is a really difficult issue to analyze! No doubt, those living on minimum wage are just living hand-to-mouth and never getting ahead. In fact, I would recommend the book _Hand to Mouth_ by Linda Tirado (http://www.amazon.com/Hand-Mouth-Living-Bootstrap-America/dp/0399171983) to anyone who wants to learn more about the lives of low-wage earners.
    However, a higher minimum wage could greatly decrease jobs as well. If my son’s occasional drive-through Happy Meal doubled or tripled in price, I’m more likely to skip eating out entirely. I could say the same for shopping and many other purchases in which I buy goods provided by a person making a minimum wage. If enough people avoid these services, we would have fewer jobs to go around. The cost of a higher minimum wage could be higher unemployment.
    Interestingly enough, I was listening to NPR last week (I know, total professor move) and they were presenting a discussion about why certain goods and services have certain fees attached. They indicated that the only “good” that can really be controlled is housing cost, and that is only through good public policies. I don’t know if I agree with that statement, and would be interested in knowing more about what people think regarding policies on not only minimum wage, but also minimums on wages, caps on food cost, phone bills, etc. Just having “the basics” is increasingly expensive and we are in the midst of a huge income disparity in the U.S.

  • Angela Baker

    This is a difficult subject, with many varying views. I can see both sides of the equation. Small business owners would not be able to afford to pay their employees $15.00 an hour. I am not sure that such a huge wage increase is the answer to the issue. All prices would go up in order to offset the cost of the new minimum wage, it would probably also decrease the number of jobs available for the younger generation. @KQEDedspace

    • Kate Killinger

      I agree, I do not think that significantly increasing the minimum wage by over doubt is the answer. I think that this would cause more problems than it would help such as higher rates of unemployment and inflation of cost of living. I also agree that people of younger ages wouldn’t be able to get a job. I think that you would see people not being able to get a job even at a fast food restaurant until their very late teens or early twenties. I think a slight increase would help. Increasing the minimum wage by $2.00 would help people live a little more comfortably but also keep inflation down. Prices go up which makes the cost of living go up. Eventually, we will have to increase the minimum wage to keep up.

    • Cheyenne Topper

      I agree with both of you, Angela and Kate. Businesses paying $15 an hour are not going to want young teens working for them. I see businesses wanting older generations of employees. I think raising minimum wage will become a big problem throughout societies.

  • Kelly Lesher

    As a topic that is of much controversy around our country, I do understand that people the only make federal minimum wage of $7.25 are barely able to make ends meet for themselves or their families – as with this wage they are barely above the poverty level, as the costs of our services and goods continue to rise. I do understand the side of the business owners that do not want federal minimum wage to increase as small business owners might loose their livelihood. I like how the presentation stated that if you had a business with less than x number of employees you were not required to maintain x dollars of minimum wage. The recent debate of $15.00 an hour is in my opinion insane. That is more than double what it currently is now. That much of an increase would cause more of the goods and service prices to rise. Which isn’t a good situation for anyone. It would also cause more large corporations to move their businesses elsewhere – where the wage to have such goods and services wouldn’t be as high, which will cause more unemployment in the country. Maybe lowering what some of the CEO’s of large corporations make and dispersing that amount to the employees would be more beneficial to the society. There is a definite wage discrepancy in this country.
    This video makes some really great points for the inequality of our wages http://inequalityforall.com/

  • Ashley Nicley

    I think people are uneducated a lot of the time when they get into the minimum wage debate. I think that raising the minimum wage, especially to $15.00 per hour, is a bad idea. I have a hard time seeing why people would want to raise the minimum wage. I definitely see the part where small businesses would go under because I have worked at several locally owned businesses. I also feel that raising the minimum wage would cause an inflation that would make the middle class be lower class. I think you constructed a good article and it had nice points on the minimum wage debate.

  • Koran Dunbar

    I think the issue is only going to get worse and
    I honestly feel we need to spend time trying to figure out a more pragmatic solution.
    The way people tend to feel about topics are, well if it doesn’t effect me or
    anyone I know, then who cares? Often
    others depict people that work min wage jobs as, lazy, uneducated or
    unmotivated. Someone needs to provide that service to you, and let’s be
    honest you can’t go a week without interacting with these “minimum
    wage” people shouldn’t they have a chance for a better life. The idea that rich people’s wealth eventually
    benefits everybody. Rich people begin businesses, hire the poor, and pay them.
    Rich people spend money on goods the poorer people manufacture. So the wealth
    at the top “trickles down.” But what happens when those businesses no longer
    play fair and they exploit their workers?

    • James Middleton

      I agree that we often come across minimum wage employees and think to ourselves they are uneducated or unmotivated. We don’t know their stories but at the same time there are a lot of jobs that offer more money and more opportunitites than working at mcdonalds.

  • Sam Baker

    This is a very important issue that I think needs to be discussed further. I understand the argument for not raising the minimum wage, but I definitely think it needs to be raised. Prices have skyrocketed over the last few decades while wages have remained relatively stagnant. People simply cannot survive on the minimum wage because it is not anywhere close to a living wage at this point. If the minimum wage would be raised, it would put more money into people’s pockets, which they would then spend and contribute to the economy. This would really help to make up for the extra money that businesses would have to pay in wages because there would simply be more money flowing through the lower rungs of the economy.

  • Kate Killinger

    I feel like this is a very controversial issue right now. Many people think that minimum wage should be increased; however, there are many people who think that it should be left alone. I think that is should be increase but not nearly doubled. Personally, I think that jobs paying minimum wage should be worked by younger people before they get an education, not something that someone should make a career from. They were designed to put some cash in your pocket or pay some extra bills. This is not a desired wage or by any means something that someone should have to live on. This puts us in a hard position because while they cannot afford to get an education to get a better paying job, they also cannot afford to live comfortably with the wages that they are making. But if they raise the wages, companies will have to cut back the amount of employees that they have and raise prices to compensate. It is basically inevitable that some people are going to be living in poverty. That is just how our economic system is set up. I think that we need to find a way to decrease the amount of people in both lower and upper class. Living in middle class is comfortable living for most people. This is a very well constructed article hitting all the pros and cons of raising minimum wage.

  • Kimberley Mong

    $15 an hour may be unreasonably high, but $7.25 is also unreasonably low. This is a serious subject for millions of Americans. People should be able to make an honest living and be paid enough to support themselves, maybe not what some would consider “comfortably” but at least without fear of having the heat and water shut off, certainly not falling far below the poverty line. The entire purpose of establishing minimum wage was to ensure that people willing to work made an adequate income. It’s really a shame that so many people dismiss those who work in
    minimum wage jobs as lazy or stupid when that is miles from the truth.I know people that lost practically everything in 2008 and were forced to take minimum wage jobs just to try to feed their families. Many of them, fortunately, had a substantial savings to get them through until things started getting better. This includes college educated people, and none of them were lazy or stupid. I like the idea of making allowances for small businesses to help them keep their doors open, but I will not say the same for some of these massive corporations that see multi-million, even billion dollar profits and only pay their employees minimum wage. Just think about Walmart, according to Forbes the six members of the Walton family are worth $144.7 billion; they pay their workers $10 per hour as of 2016 after much criticism for only paying minimum wage. Prior to the pay increase, many Walmart workers struggle to afford clothing that met their dress code requirements, even when buying clothes at Walmart. A change definitely needs to happen, but blame should not be placed on and generalizations should not be made regarding minimum wage workers for doing jobs that a lot of others would refuse to do.

    • James Middleton

      I think $15 an hour is very high maybe they should propose some place in the middle like $10 an hour.

    • Elizabeth Jones-Thomas

      I agree with you that $15 is too high for minimum wage, and I also agree with you that $7.25 is too low. I also liked what you said about some people think that a person is lazy or stupid when they work a minimum wage job. I know many people who work a minimum wage job and they work harder than a lot of people that make three times the amount of minimum wage.

    • Christina Y

      I was actually working at Walmart when they raised their wages and mentioned in my comment that going from the minimum to $10 an hour made a huge difference. $15 is too high as a minimum, but something in the range of $10-$12 an hour I think would be fine. $10/hour wasn’t luxurious by any means, but it was certainly livable for me. However, where it gets tricky is when you consider single parents that are working a minimum wage job. $10 is enough for one person, but not any more. Still, raising it a few dollars is better than staying as it is.

  • James Middleton

    I don’t agree with paying someone $15 dollars an hour is any kind of solution to reducing poverty. I think there are many businesses and labor jobs that people could get that require minimum to no experience but pay a lot more money. Many people don’t want these jobs because they do not want to work more than 40 hours a week, and they do not want to work with their hands or be outside all day long. I also think that raising minimum wage does hurt small businesses because many of these businesses will not be able to pay their employees or they might have to make cut backs and then they can’t keep up with the demand of the consumer.

  • Kaitlyn Barn

    This is a significant problem in today’s society. It’s sad that some people cannot find a good job to be able to live comfortably. I believe that there should be a standard on who receives minimum wage. For example high school students should be payed a “student pay” that is less then minimum wage if we do rise minimum wages. They have their parents still supporting them and they are most likely not making house, medical, or insurance payments. I think we should rise minimum wage some, at least to $12.50.

  • Donald Roth

    I do not agree with raising the minimum wage. I believe that raising the minimum wage will hurt small businesses because they will not be able to afford to keep their employees. I work at a meat market and get paid over minimum wage, I do not deserve to get paid $15 an hour for the work that I do, and I do not think that other low pay workers deserve to get paid a high amount of money for a job that requires little to no skill. Raising the minimum wage will also cause inflation, which will defeat the purpose of raising the minimum wage.

    • Keighley Taylor

      I agree that we should not raise the minimum wage due to the amount of work some places require. I don’t think a person who barley does any work deserves $7.25 an hour and certainly not $15 an hour.

  • Haley Varner

    This issue is very tricky to agree or disagree with, for the fact that keeping the minimum wage at $7.25 is hurting our poverty levels and raising it to $15.00 will hurt small businesses and potentially cause inflation. I believe that maybe a number in the middle will be a better option, because I do think $7.25 is too low for most jobs. I also think that it should be adjusted either lower or higher depending on the amount of education or skill required for the job, so that minimum wage rates vary for different jobs. Overall, I do think the minimum wage should be raised (maybe around $11.00, so that it is about half way between) to help decrease the amount of poverty and help low income families be able to afford more of the important necessities in life.

  • Keighley Taylor

    This is a hard question to answer. I believe that the minimum wage is to low currently but $15 is to high. Usually you will see teenagers or college students working and receiving the minimum wage. I believe that a 15 year old should not be making more then 15 dollars just flipping burgers or working a cash register. Jobs that pay minimum wage are usually jobs to get you experienced in the work force. They should not be your long life career. Making $7.25 should not be an issue for most people, it should push them to go to college and pursue a degree so they will make so much more in the long run. I believe that minimum wage should be increased some but not to $15 an hour.

    • Katie Siembieda

      I agree with you, Keighley. The minimum wage is too low currently, but $15 is too high. I like your example that a 15-year-old should not be making $15 an hour flipping burgers or working a cash register. That is so true. Some people work really hard and still only get minimum wage. Yes, it is based on the line of work they pursue, and hopefully they will get inspired to go to college or trade school to increase their income.

  • Elizabeth Jones-Thomas

    I think that $15 an hour is way too high for minimum wage. I think it would cause more damage than good. I think it would really affect businesses and inflation. I think that the minimum wage could be raised, but not an extreme amount.

    • Donald Roth

      I agree with $15 an hour being way to high. I do not think people realize that companies will have to raise the price of their goods and services in order to help off-set the cost of the higher wage.

  • Trent Wright

    I do not think minimum wage should be increased. I do believe that there are hard working people out there who deserve better living however there are way to many implications that would need to be put into place if it were raised. I think pay grade should be addressed on qualifications as it is now. I also don’t believe that equal pay for different jobs. If jobs all produced equal pay no one would want to pursue degrees and higher education. Some people do deserve higher paying jobs but 15 dollars is way to high.

    • Thomas Norton

      I don’t think raising the minimum wage is necessarily the same as equal pay. While I do believe increasing the minimum wage to $15 is probably a bit too extreme of a jump, it’s an issue that needs to be addressed. I think a raise in minimum wage would also result in a raise in wage for more professional jobs, as to ensure there is still an incentive for entering into the job market for more professional careers. The main issue I have is that if there is evidence that hard working citizens are not getting paid enough to get out of poverty, then we need to look at our system and see how it can be fixed. Maybe that comes from raising the minimum wage, maybe it comes from somewhere else.

  • Joshua Miller

    Not only do I believe Federal Minimum Wage should not be raised, I feel that it should be scrapped all together. Having a minimum wage interferes with our countries free market. In our country, which promotes capitalism, a free market drives and fuels our economy. The intentions of having a minimum wage is reasonable on paper, however, in reality it doesn’t work out when you try and mix a government fixed wage and a free market. We don’t have a ceiling in our economy where you can only make $500,000 a year so why a minimum wage? That doesn’t sound like the American way or dream to me. Isn’t capitalism and a free market part of what makes America… America?

    Opposition would argue this helps the poor, but I personally believe minimum wage hurts the poor. If companies and business owners could hire employees for a lower wage then minimum wage, I believe it would create more jobs. Minimum wage jobs were never intended to be an occupation that one does for the rest of there life while supporting a family. They are intended to gain a entry level job where you could build up your skills and work history so you can move up into something better. My question is not $7.25 or $15.00, it’s rather why we have one at all.

    • Thomas Norton

      You make an interesting argument, Josh. I see where you’re coming from; a “free market” with a government mandated minimum wage does seem to be a bit contradictory. While no minimum wage may indeed create more jobs, we run into the classic quantity vs. quality conundrum. Yes, there would be more jobs available for those in tough economic situations to seek out, but if the wage is even lower than the current minimum wage, will they really be making any progress towards getting out of poverty? Yes, some income is better than no income, but the reason so many poor people are stuck at low-paying jobs is that they lack the ability to climb the corporate ladder, often times because of a lack of education or their socioeconomic background. So if they can’t make enough money to educate themselves/their kids as well as move up the economic ladder, are they really being helped? I supposed they could work multiple jobs to try and compensate for the low wages, but that also eventually intrudes upon the quality of life for them and their families (assuming they have families). The problem becomes one of the culture and environment in which these people grow up in, which often gives them a narrow perspective for their future. The idea behind having (and raising) a minimum wage is to avoid exploitation of employees and try and help get people out of tough situations that are the result of not being able to afford what is deemed as a good quality of life. Now, the whole debate over what is truly a “quality life” is another monster in and of itself that still needs to be addressed. I wouldn’t say I am sold on raising the minimum wage to $15 for a few reasons, but I do think we need to explore the possibility of whether or not the current minimum wage is adequate enough to allow for a “quality life” for an employee and a potential family.

      • Bridget Trogden

        Interesting points, Thomas!

  • Christina Y

    Very good article. I personally think that the minimum wage should be raised, as I’ve tried to support myself on a minimum wage job and it was literally impossible. I think it’s wrong that someone who is working a full-time job could not be earning enough to support themselves, no matter what their job is. Some people say they should be looking for another job or furthering their education, but someone has to do these jobs. If someone is filling a role that is needed then they are making a contribution to society, and the least they should earn is enough to survive.

    I don’t know how much the minimum wage should be raised, but a few dollars can make a huge difference. Going from $7.25 up to just $10.00 at my old job took me from scraping by to being able to actually save a little money after each paycheck. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for minimum wage earners with children.

  • Haley Dawn

    I work as a nurse aide in a skilled care facility, on the dementia unit: I started at minimum wage. When you hear people requesting higher wages, we automatically think of the someone flipping burgers, but we don’t remember that the people caring for your mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunt and uncles are also struggling. Growing up in a military family, I remember eating Saltines for dinner more than one night a week. The people fighting for your freedom in the beginning are also fighting to keep their families above water. I’m not saying the wage should remain the same, and I’m not saying it should be increased, but I am saying that raising minimum wage doesn’t effect just the Happy-meal.

  • Cheyenne Topper

    I currently work for more than minimum wage, but not by much. Would I like to make more? Of course, but I also understand the circumstances at the same time. I do not feel as if minimum wage should be raised to $15 an hour. I see businesses only wanting to hire older generations, and invest in individuals who already have a good experience in the fields of work. If minimum wage is raised, I find that it will be hard for younger teens, starting at age 15, to find a job. I know that my parents were on my case about getting a job when I turned that age, and I am glad that I was able to get a job. For teens, like me, who pay some of their own needs and wants, a job ends up being a necessity. I guess looking at the overall situation, minimum wage should not be raised to $15 an hour. Not saying that it should not be raised at all, but I believe that $15 is a little too high. Raising minimum wage is just going to raise the prices of everything else that us individuals purchase.

  • Katie Siembieda

    I think that minimum wage laws should be mainly handled by the states, but there still should be a minimum wage set by the federal government. I say this because after seeing the map of states and their minimum wages, there are some states that are above, some states that are below, and some states that are in line with the federal minimum wage. Also, there are a few states that do not even have minimum wage laws. For states that are below the federal minimum wage or states that have no minimum wage law, the federal minimum wage helps to
    make sure people are being paid at least the minimum wage for their work. Economies are very different from state to state. For example, the economy and cost of living in Hawaii is very different from the economy and cost of living in West Virginia.

    I think that states should monitor their minimum wage laws more often to keep up with the cost of living. In Pennsylvania, the minimum wage has been $7.25 since 2009. Twenty-nine states have a minimum wage higher than ours. While it may hurt small businesses to pay their employees higher wages, they have not been paying them enough in most cases for a number of years.

    I think it is very sad that a working mother making minimum wage has to choose between buying food and diapers for her children or paying
    the rent. If a single parent with 2 children is making minimum wage, that puts that family of 3 below the federal poverty line. Often single moms who are able to work will choose to go on welfare instead. By not working and staying home, at least they don’t have to pay childcare. This
    is not good for our economy. This is where federal programs such as Earned Income Credit, Children’s Health Insurance Programs, and affordable childcare help both the families and our economy because it keeps them working and not on welfare.

    I do think that there should be an increase in the minimum wage, but Increasing it from $7.25 to $15 is more than doubling it. Yes, it would stimulate the economy, which is good. However, I think that doing this suddenly could have negative effects on our local economies. Some businesses may have to cut back on the number of employees or raise the prices of their products and services. Some people may even lose their jobs.

    Some states, particularly California and New York, have step increases planned to raise their minimum wage to $15. I do think that $15 is too high, I do agree with increasing the minimum wage gradually as it would be better for our economy. Even California and New York
    are skeptical about it working and they have stated they will repeal the law if it causes hardship on their state’s economy.

    In summary, my opinion is that minimum wage should be increased a bit, but not up to $15. I think somewhere around $10 would be fair. It should be monitored by the states to keep up with the cost of living and be appropriate for the jobs done in their states. Federal government should have a minimum wage established so that people working in those states who are far below or those who do not have minimum wage laws will be paid appropriate wages for their work. I think more needs to be done with Earned Income Credit and other subsidy programs to help people get above the poverty line and keep them working so they are not on welfare.

  • Amber

    Great presentation, I like the graphs being visually pleasing and easily
    understood. I was somewhat shocked to hear that the President wanted
    to raise minimum wage to bring those people out of the low poverty
    level. The system works off of having poor vs wealthy and minimum wage
    is just what it says, the lowest the wages should be. To me poverty
    level should be those that receive minimum wage. I was surprised to
    hear that both republicans and democrats are driven by rhetoric and
    ideology instead of facts and data. I work in the medical field and we
    create change because of facts, data, and studies so why doesn’t our
    government enact the same practice. The one study the article
    referenced showed no correlation with unemployment rates and the minimum
    wages, I would like to see more studies to support that idea.

  • Caleb Leggett

    I do not believe the minimum wage should be increased to $15. Minimum wage jobs are for high school and college students to have extra money in their pockets for the weekends, gas and food. Those types of jobs are not jobs that you would have as a career or to raise a child and to pay mortgages, rent, etc.. I believe that raising it to maybe $8 or $9 is respectable, but not $15.

  • Paige Kroschwitz

    Although I see both sides to this discussion, I do not believe minimum wage should be increased to $15/hr. I feel that going through the years and years of schooling working hard for a degree, is worth the yearly salary in the end. I feel raising minimum wage to $15/hr would discourage high school students from going to college as they feel they can live off of $15/hr for the rest of their lives. I feel going to college and getting an education to do different types of jobs is key and most of the time starting jobs out of college start at $15/hr. For minimum wage to be set at $15/hr just doesn’t seem right to those who work hard for a degree for four long years and end up starting at the same wage that someone without a degree does.

  • Jaycie Allison

    I feel as though the minimum wage should be increased, however, I do not think it should be increased that drastically. Raising it to $15 would hurt a lot of small businesses and would result in businesses not hiring as often or as many staff. On the other had, I believe it should be increased because there are so many people in this country who actually want to work but fail to make ends meet because the only job they can find just so happens to pay $7.25 an hour.

  • Erin Oliver

    I do not think our economy can sustain a minimum wage of $15 an hour. I have also heard talk of raising server minimum wage, and as a server, this is something I disagree with. If the wage is increase then we will no longer receive tips, and this is not a job I would work for only 7.25 an hour. Other minimum wage jobs I can’t really comment on, but I can speak from my own personal experience.

  • Brian Smith

    Of course it should be. It is ludicrous to believe that because rhetoric has ruled the discussion that the minimum wage never be increased again.

  • Thomas Norton

    Good topic, good discussion. This is something I find myself often very torn on. While raising the minimum wage may offer some assistance to individuals in tougher economic situations, does it truly address the culture and environmental issues that causes people to settle for minimum wage jobs. I believe that, long-term, our efforts should be focused in on the root problems within poor communities and establish a connection between people of different socioeconomic backgrounds. We can give them more money in exchange for their labor, but that does nothing to change the societal divides between them and those already established as middle and upper class. Creating deeper, more personal relationships between different communities and community members is essential in progressing as a society.
    However, short-term, raising wages can be beneficial to society. I understand the beliefs of skeptics of this proposal and their concerns are not without a legitimate basis. The concern I identify with most is that potential harm to small-scale employers who may not turn the same kind of profit to afford employees for the upkeep of their store/company. This is the main reason I hesitate to say the minimum wage should be raised to $15/hr, but I think a smaller rise could still be beneficial (to say, maybe $10/hr). As for inflation, I don’t think it would be the nightmare that people are expecting. It will differ between companies on if they even raise the cost of their goods (which not all of them will have to), but any absurd rise in cost of goods will ultimately result in them losing business, resulting in a greater loss of revenue. I anticipate that small changes would occur here and there in response to raised wages, but I don’t believe it will be to the extent where companies will put their costs through the roof. Another common issue is that skeptics don’t believe that “burger flipping” deserve the same pay rate as more professional careers. Two things: One, it’s more than just fast food employees who will contribute from a raise in wage; there are hard-working individuals who contribute a lot to society who only get minimum wage. Two, nowhere does any minimum wage plan say that professional career paths won’t get any increase in pay. In order to keep professionals who are good at their job, raises in pay (or increase in other benefits) will likely be available in order to continually attract people to different professions.
    Long story short, raising the minimum wage is not a long-term answer, but the short-term goals could be beneficial to society, and I believe that the drawbacks will not be nearly as severe as some skeptics believe. Again, great article! This is a truly engaging topic and has sparked lots of terrific conversation!

  • Angel Zaragoza

    I believe that minimum wage should be increased and also that we should put a check on prices all over the world so we do not cause inflation.

  • Thandwiches

    I will not lie; more money means a happier me because I won’t be struggling each week to pay my bills. Some people make well above minimum wage anyways so why would they even bother raising minimum wage to $15/hour? To give middle classes a chance? We have heard time and time again, about how middle class is getting crushed with debts and taxes, but we can’t just run around giving out money to poor families for being in middle class. We can’t do much to make everyone rich either, so maybe instead of raising it almost 2x the original min. wage amount we could just raise it to $10/hour this way it would not harm small businesses as much as the 15 would. It would also be enough to help families in need of help get back on their feet again, to support their own.

    How can $15 an hour be so harmful? Because the government (as rich as they seem) have budgets as well as everyone else and they can’t just hand out that much money either, due to the fact that it could ruin chances for small businesses to open let alone stay operational. One man named Douglas Holtz-Eakin says “It’s not the business community’s job to deliver fairness. It’s the government’s job. And one of the things that are wrong with the minimum wage is that, of the increases that come with going to $15, only 7 percent go to people who are in poverty. It’s very poorly targeted on those who are genuinely in need in the United States. There are better approaches, approaches that do not cost jobs, approaches that actually target people in poverty. There are the Earned Income Tax Credit and other such subsidies. We should be focusing on things that are pro-work and targeted on those who have the biggest need.” In the interview they go on to say that the government has failed to keep up with the minimum wage over the years since the 60’s (-Is a $15 minimum wage a boon or a risk for low-paid workers?-pbs newshour).

    With a little more insight to the wage increase we could actually be helping more than it hurts people, the mere fact that we could be getting our way with the wage is almost insane to think about. For myself being the working middle class citizen that I am, this means I can actually do things like travel and take vacations, buy repairs for my car, unfortunately the increase also means prices will rise as well, because people need to be able to pay their employees the pay check they have earned, and then an endless cycle of increasing minimum wage would begin. Just like how the $15/hour began, Alterique Hall, an $8-an-hour McDonald’s cashier in New York, joined 200 fast-food workers in the first one-day strike for the Fight for $15 campaign, many scoffed at their demand for $15 an hour as pie in the sky. Frustrated with his meager pay, Mr. Hall said, “It’s time for a change.” (-How the $15 Minimum Wage Went From Laughable to Viable-New York Times). We can all relate to the frustration of low wage over the years and we do want change but let’s take a minute to think of the actions taken first.

  • Charles Wilson

    The current federal minimum wage, at $7.25 an hour, is contributing to the ever oncoming poverty and widening gap of the middle class in this nation. According to a KQED Do Now article published by Sencer, “Heather Boushey, Executive Director and Chief Economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, raising the minimum wage is an important anti-poverty measure. A person earning the current minimum wage and working a 40-hour week makes $15,080 per year, which is barely above the poverty line for a single adult and is well below it for someone supporting children,” (Sencer 2016). This is the most important reason why the federal minimum wage should be raised, but here are some other reasons.

    I would like to start off with some history on changing minimum wages. Has it always happened? Yes. It started with the state of Massachusetts in 1912, due to the increasing pressure from Progressivism political movement that was present at the times. Soon after, other states followed not so far behind, and ever since then, more and more laws have been made to raise the minimum wage higher and higher. It will only have to go one direction, as said by and article on ProCon.org, “A May 2015 poll conducted by CBS and the New York Times found that 71% of Americans favored raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, with 26% opposed. The poll found that 86% of Democrats, 50% of Republicans, and 76% of independents were in favor, and 67% of men and 75% of women were in favor. Public support for raising the minimum wage has been over 70% as far back as 1994,” (ProCon.org 2016). However, the same article stated that small business do not favor these proposals, “A 2013 Gallup poll found that 50% of small business owners were opposed to raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour and 60% believed such an increase would hurt most small business owners. [50] A 2015 poll by the Wall Street Journal and Vistage International found that 49% of small business owners favored raising the minimum wage while 49% were opposed,” (ProCon.org 2016).

    I doubt that the popularity of this issue will ever cease to exist or decay. It too will also grow, and soon, the government will have to make a choice. Steven Greenhouse wrote an article for the New York Times that cites proof of growing popularity over this issue, and explains what’s behind the growth. Michael Kazin, a historian at Georgetown University, says that “Inequality is a big issue nowadays. The Fight for $15 has become the way that civil rights was in the early ’60s — it’s an issue you can’t avoid. For politicians — or at least Democratic politicians — you want to be on the right side,” (Greenhouse 2016).

    Lastly, there is another article by Heather Boushey, who draws three conlusions when testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee. These conclusions are: “Raising the minimum wage will reduce poverty. According to economic estimates, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour will reduce the poverty rate for non-elderly Americans to 15.8 percent by 2016 from current 17.5 percent levels. This increase would bring about 6.8 million people out of poverty. Raising the minimum wage will help family breadwinners support their children. The typical minimum wage earner brings in half of their family’s income. Congress should also take care to make sure that other benefits for low-wage workers provide a full package for low-wage workers and their families as families will also need help with access to affordable and quality health care, childcare, and housing, even at a higher minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage will have positive economic effects above and beyond lowering the poverty rate. Economic research points to the conclusion that a higher minimum wage does not cause greater unemployment, boosts productivity, and addresses the growing problem of rising income inequality, “(Boushey 2016).

  • Josh Schiemann

    I think that the minimum wage should be increased slightly not by much maybe a dollar at most. If you’re working a minimum wage job really you should get a little more but it should not be raised by much. The current federal wage is 7.25 i think it should be around nine dollars not the desired $15 some people want. The first problem is then employers will have to pay more for their labor, which then people will be fired. The increases could affect 10 million workers. The problem is we didn’t raise minimum wages more appropriately over the last 40 years and has left low wage workers in this country earning less today than their counterparts did a generation ago. The government hasn’t helped those below the poverty line they have not included policies that would protect those workers. New york has been looking to increase the wage to $15 by 2018 and california to $15 by 2022. The problem is it’s so risky for businesses. It’s a whole 50 percent more than the current rate. If things don’t go well they will back out and lower it down some. In argument this change would allow millions of workers to get above the poverty line. The increase would also allow for more people to spend more money so more money back into the system. The wage would benefit those who are looking to make more money in the summer like students. Another problem may be the businesses may not be able to pay the workers and then they may become understaffed and the overall unemployment rate will go up. It seems that this will all be a big test to see if california’s economy will stumble then the governor may be suspended. There’s no question that a minimum-wage increase will help more people than it hurts. But it takes a lot of people getting a $300 raise to offset someone losing their job. Overall we don’t need to raise the wage so high maybe settle on a wage in the middle .

  • Buddy Gray

    The federal minimum wage should not be increased. People can
    live perfectly fine on it, and if you don’t accept that fact, you have to
    obtain skills that actually require you getting paid more than $7.25 an hour.
    John Boehner (kqed) said it right “When you raise the price of employment,
    guess what happens. You get less of it.” That is absolutely right. People and
    governments always preach about staying and buying local in your community, but
    if you raise the price of minimum wage, it will put your favorite mom and pop sandwich
    shop out of business after all your employees go to work at McDonalds to learn
    how to through what they call “meat” into a microwave, set a timer, and
    literally through a cheeseburger together. Also, to add to the fact that you
    could lose employees to an easier job of setting a timer, how are the mom and
    pop shops going to pay the employees that do stay after more people go to the
    higher chain companies, (kqed) and in all actuality, not really staying and
    buying local. Yes, some may argue that the minimum of $7.25 an hour isn’t suitable
    for anyone to live on, and the average family of four could not be supported
    and remain under the poverty line (procon.org), but I also would mention that anyone
    with a family to support shouldn’t have a minimum wage job, rather leave the
    easier jobs for the up and coming teenagers to learn about the responsibilities
    and commitments of having a job in the real world. For some reason say that
    this is the only job the person can get, well maybe they need to learn the
    skill of another job, or maybe possibly work two of the minimum wage jobs. I was
    brought up with the ways of always working hard and always trying to make
    things work being instilled in my head. Honestly, people who flip burgers at
    Burger King don’t deserve more than maybe $8 an hour because that doesn’t require
    you doing anything. First learn how to put a drain field in, dig a basement, or
    even drop a septic tank in the ground and run all the pipes, then maybe you be
    rewarded with higher dividends, after doing a higher skilled job. I wouldn’t be
    totally opposed to raising the standard slightly maybe to $8-$8.25 just to help
    the people under that poverty line decrease slightly, or help the high school
    student save more for the outrageous college debt awaiting him in another 4-5-6
    years. But then again who knows, raising the minimum wage might influence more
    teens now a days to get off their butt from playing X-box and eating Cheetos,
    to actually going out and trying to make money and learn real life commitments
    and responsibilities and possibly start learning that having a goal to strive
    for and something to look after is actually the point of living life. Some
    people can even wonder what would happen if minimum wage was thrown out altogether,
    abolishing this idea of everyone trying to find and scrap off easy jobs, rather
    than go and find a job, work your hardest and who knows, move up the ranks and
    maybe even be in that higher end rage of income rather than at the bottom. If
    you look at the side of raising it, the world just becomes a bidding war,
    offering less work for the same price to keep the company alive, and that is completely
    defeating the purpose of the ideas that America was built on. Overall, society
    needs to rethink their standards and maybe go back to the ideas that many of us
    were raised on, work hard for what you want and never give up until you get it.
    630

  • jamie wilson

    The federal minimum
    wage should defiantly be increased because a lot of the lower income families
    are paying their bills or trying to pay their bills just to stay another month
    in a warm place and also they are trying to make it week to week with the money
    they have and the food they don’t have. As of right now the federal minimum
    wage is $7.25 an hour, now this minimum wage should be way higher than this,
    imagine if a widow and her 3 kids had to survive on just her income, eventually
    the oldest kid would have to quit school and get a job working somewhere full
    time so he/she can help their mom earn some money and pay the bills, and help
    buy food so they don’t end up starving. How can this be okay? Do the government
    or business owners even care about anybody they hire? Now if they even got a
    $1.00 raise in their paychecks that $1.00 would do a lot more than for the
    people who really need it. That could help a small family get food for another day,
    that could help somebody pay bills, that could extend the life of millions. A
    person earning the current minimum wage and working a 40-hour week makes
    $15,080 per year, which is barely above the poverty line for a single adult and
    is well below it for someone supporting children. I’m not sure how somebody
    could possibly get all the necessities of life with these small earnings a year;
    no family could survive on this low of a wage. The most recent proposal to
    increase the federal minimum wage would have raised it to $10.10 per hour,
    though it didn’t pass. More than half of the states (including the District of
    Columbia) already have higher minimum wages than the federal minimum wage. The
    District of Columbia is currently the highest at $10.50/hour. There has been
    discussion lately about increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour,
    which would bring a family relying on a single wage-earner above the poverty
    line. There are two states as of now that give out wages lower than the federal
    minimum wage rate, I’m sure in both of those states there is a lot of poverty
    for small family’s. in Georgia the minimum wage rate is $5.15 an hour now that
    is way below poverty, nobody can live or survive on that money, this wage gets
    somebody that works 80 hours every two weeks a pay check that consists of
    $412.00, for most parts of the USA that won’t even pay for one month’s rent at
    an apartment complex. Now Massachusetts has a minimum wage rate of $10.00 an
    hour, this has got to be a really good minimum wage rate for a small family, on
    this you can survive, now if only our FWR went up to that there would be little
    to no poverty in the United States, it would make everybody’s lives better and
    easier.

  • Audrey

    Increasing minimum wage doesn’t actually benefit the poor, even though the poor will make more money, the cost of everything else will go up as well because of the cost in labor to do basic things like make a hamburger will be inflated. So it doesn’t really change anything if everything keeps costing more and more money. #DoNowUWage

  • Pete

    Go back to school and get a degree. Minimum wage is for people just entering workforce. If you happen to be 45 and just entering work force why should I have to pay 25$ for a value meal at McDonald’s that makes no sense guys we are smarter than this wake the fuck up

  • Pete

    Or if it does get passed instead of full time you will now be part time and get no benefits of the full time worker. 7.25 for 40 hrs or 15 for 20 it’s the same shit or small businesses will go away from our country

  • Pete

    Final thought is most of these people don’t have money no matter how much they make their lifestyles elevate with their earning potential we are trained to be consumers from birth and only the elite schools teach the kids about finances not public schools. I don’t see how a job like flippin burgers or cashiering is worth more than that??? What about people whose busted their asses to get degrees (me) do I get a double pay raise too? Why not I actually earned my pay rate?? Their will be so many issues with this that I can’t even believe it’s being discussed at any level don’t sit back waiting for a fuckin hand out Americans want everything given to them. Go out there and make something with yourself no gets anything handed to them go bust your ass and achieve your goals you just can’t sit around and wait for it you have to go get it!!!

  • David Acreman

    Here’s a take on minimum wage increases to consider. In 1969 the minimum wage was $1.65 per hour. I could go to McDonalds and buy a meal consisting of a hamburger, french fries and a coke for $0.35 total. That meant I could eat 4.7 meals for $1.65 at McDonalds.
    Today with the minimum wage at $7.65 per hour I can go buy that same meal at McDonalds off the $1.00 menu for $2.85 total. That means I can only eat 2.7 meals for $7.65 at McDonalds. What do you think is going to happen if they increase the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour? Every time minimum wage has gone up, the buying power of the dollar goes down. Don’t let the politicians fool you. They know this.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor