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August 20, 2013 at 10:23 pm #608765
Does it make sense as a society to designate all jobs as necessary to provide a “living wage”? What about the afterschool / weekend / summer jobs for students?
I agree that income inequality and declining middle class jobs are serious issues, but I don’t think this really addresses those problems.August 20, 2013 at 11:31 pm #796213
It kind of does address the issue. Companies are historically paying their workers less well expecting a higher level of productivity. Filtering too much of the profit to the top or into financial systems and not to the workers. Minimum wage hasn’t kept pace with inflation. Workers now are paid less then they would have comparably been in the ’70s.August 20, 2013 at 11:44 pm #796214
Let’s just raise the minimum wage to $50/hour and all will be good, right?
Right?August 20, 2013 at 11:51 pm #796215August 21, 2013 at 1:48 am #796216
EdSane – I thought about that too, and as far as major retail corporations go, I see your point.
But what about the chains that are franchises – where “Mom & Pop” pay a fee (generally a hefty one) to the corporation for use of the brand and advertising, but the operations are still on a small business scale?
Can the owners of any retail business along California Ave afford to pay the person running the register $15 an hour?
They can’t reduce the amount they pay over to Big Corp because the franchise fee is set…so it’s not affecting Big Corp at all.August 21, 2013 at 2:01 am #796217
Turns out the minimum wage has been pretty much flat since 1950. It’s a little higher in the 60’s and 70’s, with a peak in 1968. But people who talk about how it’s declining are just wrong, whether it’s from deliberate cherrypicking or not.
Adjusted-for-inflation data available at
So then I checked the federal poverty level, and figured how many minimum-wage hours it took to reach that level. That’s been pretty stable these last 30 years too, and right now we’re within about 2% of the average seen over that time.
Say what you like about whether it’s enough. But it’s not really any different now than before.August 21, 2013 at 2:55 am #796218
@JKB, 10.56 an hour vs 9.19 currently? That is a huge sum when you’re living in poverty. Also, our standard of living has improved since then so I don’t think a direct comparison to monetary inflation works here. As for that 2% number of people who are at minimum wage, that’s because in cities there is no way they could pay a worker that and still expect them to live anywhere near their job.
@Ms. Sparkles, if ‘mom & pop’ stores or franchises can’t afford it they go out of business. In the franchise scenario eventually that will affect the corporation. We should set standards and businesses that can’t meet them (much like ones who can’t turn a profit because of taxes) should failure so that a more successful model will take it’s place.August 21, 2013 at 3:06 am #796219
Ed, the 1960-80 period is indeed higher than the rest, with a brief but significant spike in 1968. I noted that already. But don’t compare 10.56 to 9.19, because the latter is WA state wage. All the numbers I quoted were federal minimums.
The 2% was not number of people. I figured the number of hours needed to work at minimum wage in order to reach the federal poverty level. Average during the period 1980-present was 1717, and about 1682 at present. That’s 2% less than the average number of hours, meaning essentially the same as the average.August 21, 2013 at 3:55 am #796220
@JKB, read the last chart on the source you cited regarding my 2% comment. And of course I’ll compare it to WA standards as the federal government is absurdly low. 10.56 vs 7.25 is an even larger disparity yet you stated “But people who talk about how it’s declining are just wrong, whether it’s from deliberate cherrypicking or not.” Care to explain? Because it has been declining from the late 70s onward. Feel free to post up how the wealthy have continued to gain and gain and gain. Especially in financial systems as opposed to just the CEOs.
This also seems like a good source of information.August 21, 2013 at 4:00 am #796221
Smitty, I appreciate the intelligent sarcasm of your point in post #3 above. Although few would call the manipulated morass that used to be called “the Market” pre 2008, let’s pretend a technical analysis is remotely relevant: It is quite brilliant to throw out a $50/hr. figure because in the old economy with the exception of currency devaluation, inflation and other negatives, it would have the same impact on M1 and M2 and the other two main sectors of what used to be the ‘economy’ as a simple raise of $2.00 per hour. All other wages eventually adjust up from the artificially mandated minimum base. It is the people who actually will/need to work at the artificial base who are hurt in the short term as the process of the adjustment plays out. Employers immediately reduce work hours and / or new hiring thus hurting those the ‘ignorant with good intentions but no actual clue’ want to help. In the old days if one actually desired to assist minimum wage workers to have BUYING POWER at least equal to the established “living wage”, without the harmful cascade of negatives such wage loss by those who can least incur it, the inflationary, currency devaluating consequences, was to increase support for and access to the plethora of existing and new “Hand up” menu of assistance additions to income such as housing, food, child care, additions to income similar to those offered by Private, City, Federal, Non-profit, faith based groups and so on. I suggest a central place to coordinate increasing “Buying Power” would address the too excessive time required to apply and receive these additions to income. However I do agree that there is a pretty big opportunity cost implementing equal buying power in this manner and that is one of pride. It is a false pride after the adjustment, but there are people who need help who won’t ask or accept it, ergo, I think supporting groups who help teach a new mind-set that it is for the good of the minimum wage workers and the entire population that if one’s buying power is below “x”, it is an obvious co and cost effective right to use whichever group of income additions necessary and is not charity…August 21, 2013 at 4:30 am #796222
In my opinion, this conversation should only be had at a minimum of the state level (national preferably). If the city of Seattle raises minimum wage rates but the surrounding cities don’t, it will just force businesses outside the city lines. There should be a level playing field for businesses to compete and forcing some to pay their works X and others Y defeats that purpose.August 21, 2013 at 4:53 am #796223
Hah – an entirely different and coincidental 2%. Yes, that last graph shows a discussion of the minimum wage to be increasingly irrelevant because so few people are paid that way. 98% make more than the minimum, so we don’t have decent data without knowing the distribution of how much they’re actually paid. An additional two cents would make them not-the-minimum without really helping, but we don’t know how much of that is going on.August 22, 2013 at 7:58 am #796224
Re: Post #3…to Smitty….my apologies. I didn’t add much to the conversation, either. As I back out of here, I need to retrieve my sense of humor from where I checked it at the door. :) Sorry about that.August 22, 2013 at 9:05 am #796225
I used to be all for raising minimum wages, but in my life, all I have ever seen is retail prices double or triple once it happens. It simply just drives up prices for everyone on things like food gas etc so it makes little difference, actually makes things worse. I would say money better spent stopping corporations from shipping our good middle class jobs overseas AMAZON!!! or hiring cheap labor from overseas MICROSOFT!!! while making false claims saying they “just can’t find talented Americans to give those jobs to”. complete BS. Meanwhile they continue to use us U.S, citizens year after year as their temporary but talented-enough-to-do-th-job-and-are-already-FULLY-trained for it workforce. Also, put the money towards training voc programs so that minimum wage workers can get better jobs (overseas of course)August 22, 2013 at 2:47 pm #796226
This needs to be a statewide decision. Also, we are fairly used to cheap stuff at this point. I am fine with prices at groceries and target going up, since I don’t live on min wage, but we all need to realize that this will be the impact, especially at local shops. And one of the real possibilities is that this drives more people to shop big box than local, since local shops are so much more labor price sensitive. I wish there were more discussion about these trade offs in the political maneuvers happening now but alas…August 22, 2013 at 5:21 pm #796227
If Washington raised minimum wage to $15/hour I think we’d all be in a lot of trouble. Washington is an export state, largely because of Boeing and its local suppliers. True, no one is earning $15/hour at Boeing. Let’s say the average line assembly person is making $25/hour. If minimum wage was $15, that person would need to be paid at least $35 to $40 per hour to maintain her standard of living since everything would be more expensive. Guess what happens at that point? The cost of making that airplane in Washington State just went way up. Boeing would have to move out as quickly as possible so that they could remain cost-competitve with Airbus. It would be a disaster.August 22, 2013 at 6:19 pm #796228
Actual economists (even those opposed to raising the minimum wage), do not have such alarmist run-away inflation models. And the idea that raising the minimum wage directly impacts the economy to such an extent has been largely de-bunked. You first have to look at the percentage of those affected to see how big an impact raising such wages would happen. One study found the cost of a big mac goes up less then a dollar…The real issue here is that those at the top would lose a bit. The Boeing worker will not see his wages raised 15 bucks. What will happen is that his wage will be closer to minimum wage because we’re setting a standard beyond which the job is actually valued under a less protectionist model.August 22, 2013 at 7:12 pm #796229
While I’m impressed with all the economic theory in response to this question, I’m really wondering if anyone else thinks there are jobs from which you shouldn’t expect to live off the earnings.
The bakery I worked at when I was 16 (as a counter clerk, not a baker or decorator – those jobs paid more than minimum) is not a place I would’ve expected to work and support myself with when I’m 40.
I know hard times force people to take ANY job they can find, but does that change the nature of the job – should it make the job a career?August 23, 2013 at 3:50 am #796230
Ahhhhh, this query has made my mind sparkle, Ms. Sparkle! You have subtlety and deftly moved this discussion along and have revealed the truth at the core of this national debate. In a healthy, holistic, un-manipulated market economy, there are countless entry level positions for which no person with an IQ over 10 would expect to be paid the current artificially set “living wage”. As a sophomore in HS I filed checks for Sea-First Bank. Did I expect to support myself on that wage. No, of course not. Did I expect to add to the economic health of the local economy by spending my pay on clothes or whatever…yes. I also might be expected to add to the income of my family unit’s ability to feed and house itself. In return, I was mentored and began the journey of adding to my skill sets to eventually enable myself to actually support myself then others and hopefully to offer entry level jobs to others as they begin their journey. Yes, often it takes many in a family unit of relatives and even unrelated but associated housemates to equal the adjusted living wage per capita. So, imagine the escalating, cascade of horrors that would occur if a law was passed that every employee had to be paid the “living wage”. Forget that extra help doing inventory local “mom & pop” store…and to the inevitable millions of non hired employees…forget that new jacket you wanted to buy for your little sister and how that $$ spent would have added to your local economy, etc,…etc.
As for adults working for minimum wage…use the time tested solution of joint living solutions…like most did when first leaving home…find roommates, survive, educate yourself, gain skills…move out and on for your dream…then hire and train others…etc.August 23, 2013 at 6:16 pm #796231
When economic models don’t follow a downward trend with raising the minimum wage, we then fall back on the idea of ‘well I had to when I was insert age’. Shouldn’t we be looking for constant improvement and not stagnation. Anecdotal evidence aside. Moving from the bottom into upper income ranges has stagnated. We currently have the same distribution of wealth as China with our current economic policies…We don’t even have true un-regulated capitalism. The Middle Class doesn’t exist under that model. It was created by protectionist policies. The problem with being an ideologue is that you fear being proven wrong. I welcome the idea behind the SeaTac initiative. If it passes and the dire consequences aren’t realized. What will you say then? If it does pass and the unemployment is unacceptable I’m sure the people will reverse it as they should. Personally, economically putting more cash in the lower levels of society (where they spend the vast majority of it) has shown to improve economic conditions for everyone. It really is in our not-minimum wage earners interest to have this put in place.August 24, 2013 at 4:55 pm #796232
I am all for raising the minimum wage…but to give it a $5 an hour boost will likely kill the idea right off the bat. I know of several young adults, with college educations, with experience, who are making something like $16 – $18 an hour. If you can suddenly make $15 an hour for a job that requires no education, no experience, etc….doesn’t that take away from the idea of working your way up?September 23, 2013 at 6:20 am #796233
I come from the school of thought that the minimum wage is a starting wage. Meaning that after a time in a job, if you feel you are not making enough, you look for another higher paying job. Why should an unskilled worker without experience make $15.00 an hour?
There are a couple of side issues. Been to England lately where they have higher minimum wages? Check out the service. Generally not as good across the board. I am not saying it is bad but the service can be somewhat lacking at times.
Now that the Democrats will be forcing everyone to pay for their own healthcare I suppose they need to make more money. Companies are dropping healthcare benefits and people will have to go the exchanges. I always cringe when I hear elderly complain about either buying their drugs or paying rent. Now the youth of America and plenty other citizens will be having to decide to enrich the Insurance companies and risk an IRS fine or buy food or rent.
All hail the (un)affordable health care act.September 23, 2013 at 8:22 am #796234
whereas in reality, many people with families are working minimum wage jobs trying to support those families. Oh, in a perfect world, wouldn’t it be nice if all things were the way we thought they should be. The truth is…it’s not just kids starting out taking those jobs now..it’s what’s out there. Not everyone went to college to be a businessman, or an IT person, or whatever. Our economy sucked/sucks…people take what they can…what you make should be enough to keep a roof over your head (have you seen seattle rents lately?), and to feed yourself. MInimum wage does not do thatSeptember 23, 2013 at 8:29 am #796235
Insurance..I’m on Medicare…a lot of people do not know that Medicare is not free. You have to pay for it. And that only covers the basics. Want more? Want surgery? Want a prescription? Costs more. And copays, and deductibles, and on and on.You tell me the difference. I have worked 2 months out of the last year due to health reasons. Self-employed…no sick leave, and no pay….thankfully there are programs that will help with those Medicare premiums, and I have been very lucky. Not all are so lucky…and the insurances from the exchange are cheap…and there will be subsidies.We can’t have it all ways…no insurance, go to ER, taxpayers pay and complain. Have a plan to get those people health insurance cheaply…and people still complain…it’s baffling.Is this plan perfect? Of course not…but it’s a step in the right direction…and doesn’t go far enough in my estimation.September 23, 2013 at 2:51 pm #796236
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