Across the United States, tens of thousands of low income workers have lobbied to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr. This is one of the largest wage protest in American history, and it appears to be working. 🙂 Seattle, WA is the first to begin a multi-year transition to $15/hr minimum wage starting this month. The people of San Francisco, CA have voted to raise its minimum wage to $15 by 2018.
In the state of Connecticut the government is trying something a little different to implement a higher wage standard. The current minimum wage there is $9.15/hr, but a new proposed bill seeks to fine large companies that underpay their employees. If the bill passes it would fine businesses $1/hr per employee who doesn’t earn the $15 minimum.
Some people believe this legislation would reduce income inequality and make low-wage workers better off. 🙂 But others retort that this is just a tax grab for the government, dressed up to look like a bill that would help the lower class. The reality is that if a company is currently paying $10/hr to a worker, then simply coughing up an extra $1 to the government is more economical for itself than raising the wage of that worker by $5/hr. In fact, that worker may actually see his/her real wage and purchasing power reduced. The extra $1/hr is an expense for businesses making them more costly to run, which often trickles down to higher prices for consumers. It’s kind of ironic that a bill that’s designed to help the most vulnerable working class would actually make life harder for them. Employees who are already making over $15/hr would not be affected. So this new bill would only benefit workers who earn between $14/hr to $15/hr.
I believe there is merit in having some kind of living wage standard within a society. But it has to be implemented in the right way. For example, Norway has relatively low wealth inequality, and non-skilled labor usually starts at the hourly equivalent of $20 USD. Norwegians are also famous for being some of the happiest people in the world. 😀
I don’t know if $15/hr is the right minimum wage for the U.S. to adopt. Canada’s minimum hourly pay is between $10 to $11, depending on the province, and I think we have a pretty good system up here. Both proponents and opponents of higher minimum wage laws have made persuasive arguments for their positions, but the simple truth is that we don’t know what the real effects are yet of a $15/hr minimum wage. I’m sure we’ll have more information over time when new studies and reports about this come out for cities like Seattle and San Francisco. 🙂
Random Useless Fact:
Australia is shaped like animal heads