Increase in wages not enough

The minimum wage should be raised to $15 to provide families with a living wage.

by Ronald Dixon

Last week, fast food employees at several McDonald’s, Subway and Burger King restaurants across the Twin Cities protested for a $15 minimum wage.

The workers were joined by progressive congressman Keith Ellison and Minneapolis City Councilman Jacob Frey, the leading advocate for instituting a living wage across the city. In fact, the council has recently put together a think tank to study the implications of raising the minimum wage citywide.

Some bystanders may be confused by these protesters. After all, didn’t they just receive a raise from the Minnesota Legislature?

While it is true that Gov. Mark Dayton recently signed a bill into law that will raise the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2016, eventually pegging it to inflation, this wage is still not high enough to meet household needs.

The federal poverty line is at $23,850 for a family of four. Assuming that someone works 40 hours a week for $9.50 an hour without taking vacations, they would only make about $19,760 before considering taxes. A $15 hourly wage, though, would pay about $31,200 — a living wage that allows families to purchase basic necessities, splurge on some “wants” and save the rest.

We cannot count on Congress to raise the minimum wage, as Republicans would obstruct any attempt at improving the lives of the working poor. We are also unable to rely on the Minnesota Legislature, as it is unlikely that it will revise a newly instated law this soon. Therefore, the city of Minneapolis is the only possible entity in the state to institute a living wage for its workers, which would hopefully set a precedent for the rest of the state and hopefully the country.