An Unexpected Raise

For years minimum wage has been a topic of conversation that has caused controversy to follow, dividing two sides of approval or opposition, constantly creating an argument of “is it just the right amount?” or “is it too low?” 

In 1938, the federal government established the Fair Labor and Standard Act, marking the start of the requirement that employers had to legally pay their employees for overtime, henceforth creating federal minimum wage. 

In the early 1940s, the minimum wage was only $.25, equating to only $3.51 in 2016. 

“I got $2.35 an hour at Dairy Queen,” said teacher Buffy Hourt-Allred. “I thought I was making huge bank at the swimming pool when I was making $4 an hour.”

A study by the Pew Research Center found that less than half of the 2.6 million hourly workers who were below the federal minimum in 2015 were ages 16 to 24. 

“I currently work at the Paul Stock Aquatic Center,” said Junior Megan Boysen. “I probably make $10.25 an hour.” 

According to America’s Unions, $15,080 is the annual income for a full-time employee that works the entire year at the federal minimum wage. 

“Minimum wage is a gray area,” said Junior Hannah Blasco. “A lot of times you only get paid $2.75 an hour to be a waitress, but then you get paid tips. I feel like raising the minimum wage would be beneficial towards people who actually need a steady income.” 

Fifty-seven percent of minimum wage workers work full time, and on average, they earn more than half of their family’s total income.

“It [minimum wage] could be better, but it’s been a lot worse,” said Senior Sidney Johnson. “I think $15 is a big jump, but I think that $7 is kind of low for working as much as they [lower/middle class people] do.” 

Recently, the Federal Government proposed that the federal minimum wage will be raised to $15 dollars an hour by the year 2025.

“I understand that things are much more expensive and I get it, but $15 an hour is kind of crazy,” said Allred. “Not that I’m saying that kids shouldn’t be paid as much, but I think sometimes kids forget what that ‘sweat equity’ is. I will tell you that when I first started college, I was not going to be a teacher, but that summer, I worked with two young men and their sister. The two guys had a severe disability, and because of them, I switched and became a special ed teacher. I guess because of some of those things that I learned, I became what I am today.” 

In 2015, the Economist estimated that the wealth in the U.S., the with how wealthy U.S. is, the expected that minimum wage was $12 an hour, not four dollars less than it is right now. 

“I think that raising minimum wage is great!” said Johnson. “It will probably be good because teenagers will have more money, and then they’ll be able to pay for college and other stuff better.” 

While minimum wage is constantly changing, it’s about to make an enormous leap. . The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 which is almost $8 less than what it will be in 2025. Studies show that 89% of minimum wage workers are not just teenagers. In fact, most are 20 years old or older. Thirty-seven percent are 40 years old or older, 56% are women, and 28% have children. As of now 29 states, the District of Columbia, and nearly two dozen cities and counties have set their own minimum wages to a higher amount. Soon enough everyone will be making more money, and whether people agree with it or not, change is inevitable.