Fortunately, many of the clients that I work with do not have to worry about making a living on only minimum wage (the state of public education isn’t quite that bad! [yet]). However, it is clearly a major issue for many workers in the United States. If the recent fast food strikes are any indication, the minimum-wage employee is waking up to the hardships created by a wage that has actually been decreasing (when adjusted for inflation) for the last 45 years. Opponents of an increased minimum wage often claim that raising the wage would lead to unemployment and would unfairly help teenagers who are just beginning to work (even though nearly 50% of minimum wage earners are older than 25).
A recent scholarly article posted online analyzes these claims and finds that there are good reasons for wanting to raise the minimum wage. See Justice at Work: Minimum Wage Laws and Social Equality by Brishen Rogers of the Temple University School of Law. What is perhaps most interesting about this article is that it accepts, for purposes of argument, the claims of the opponents to an increased minimum wage and still finds important social reasons for increasing the minimum wage. In particular, the author focuses on how the minimum wage works to advance “social equality” a societal good that goes beyond mere fiscal matters.
The entire article is interesting and would be well worth a read to anyone thinking about wage, employment, or social justice issues.
Hat tip to the Workplace Prof Blog for bringing this article to my attention (they are also a great resource for keeping up on upcoming scholarship).