Economy 101 – Good for Workers

How to Win on Wages

Economy 101 – Good for Workers

A huge number of working class Americans would get a bigger paycheck, and they deserve it.

By raising the minimum wage to $15, we would also extend the benefits of this change to many outside of what most Americans think of as typical low-skill, low-wage minimum wage jobs. Only a few million Americans work for the federal minimum wage, but a whopping four in ten Americans currently make less than $15 an hour.

Raising the wage to $15 an hour would give a raise to nearly one quarter of workers in manufacturing, one-fifth of construction workers, one-fourth of health care workers, and one-fifth of educators. 

Wouldn’t you rather your child’s preschool teachers and your parents’ nursing assistants not be preoccupied with how they were going to afford this month’s rent while they’re supposed to be taking care of your family? Raising their wages to at least $15 an hour would give them more financial security, and in the process, give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your family is being cared for.

And a $15 minimum wage wouldn’t just affect the 40% of Americans earning less than $15 an hour. The ripple effects would touch nearly every working American. 

One of the most common arguments against raising the minimum wage is that higher-skilled workers like EMTs or electricians only make $15 or $16 an hour, so why should people flipping burgers think they deserve the same hourly pay as someone with a much more difficult job? The answer is simple: they won’t be paid the same. 

The economic impact of raising wages for those at the bottom means that those right above them will also receive raises as well. It’s basic economics. There’s significant evidence that in order to attract and retain skilled labor, business owners will be forced to raise their wages relative to the new, higher minimum wage. For example, when the federal government raised the minimum wage in 1996 and 1997, one major retail company (given anonymity by the study’s authors) raised wages for 30 to 40 percent of its workforce, despite the fact that only 5 to 10 percent of that company’s employees actually earned the minimum wage. 

When you lift up the floor, you lift it up for everyone standing on it, not just those who are closest to it.

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