A Higher Minimum Wage Means More than Spare Change

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The words “minimum wage” brings to mind a teenager making a little extra money to buy that cute sweater that had been tempting them for weeks. That is not the reality for most Americans now, as they hold minimum wage jobs to make ends meet.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the last time minimum wage had increased was in July 2009, to the current standard of $7.25. If the minimum wage were raised now to $15, it would increase pay for 40 million U.S workers by 2024, according to the Economic Policy Institute. 

Much has changed since then as a present-day college student could have a minimum wage job to buy groceries and gas at most. 

Working for $7.25 an hour is doable for a full-time college student with outside sources and family support but this salary would earn a one-person household a little over $15,000 a year, according to USAFacts.

Imagine a household with three children. According to the Center of Poverty and Research, the poverty line for that family would be $25,750. That is $10,000 more than what the average person is making with the minimum wage now.  They would most likely have to take up another job to take care of their kids. 

If the minimum wage could be raised to $15 an hour, the average worker would make a little over $29,000 a year. That’s an additional $4,000 over the poverty line, a meaningful difference. More people would be financially secure and would not have to choose between rent and feeding their family.

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