Should the minimum wage be higher? It’s a heated debate, and a new study from University of Massachusetts-Amherst economist Arindrajit Dube throws more fuel on the fire. In short, Dube’s study found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour will lift nearly 5 million Americans out of poverty. Here’s how.
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To keep pace with the cumulative rate of inflation alone, the minimum wage should be raised to $9.10 per hour. The problem is that some necessary living costs, such as health care, have risen far beyond the rate of inflation. In order to cover the cost of living, many supporting a raise in the wage argue that more than $9.10 is necessary. Dube’s study looked at the effects of raising the wage to $10.10 per hour.
Thirteen states are raising their own minimum wages this year. The state of Washington is raising it the most, but only to $9.32 per hour.
Dube’s study found that raising the wage to $10.10 per hour would quickly pull 4.6 million non-elderly Americans out of poverty.
In the long run, however, the higher wage would realistically pull 6.8 million non-elderly Americans out of poverty. Long-term effects include, but are not limited to, people being able to:
- Save a little each month;
- Put money toward tuition, as education equals better job opportunities and more money; and
- Afford transportation to a better job.
Other Beneficial Programs
Dube acknowledges that there are other ways to help people climb out of poverty, including programs that help the poor find jobs, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP.)
Unfortunately, our society is threatened with the loss of food stamp programs that help the poor survive. Republicans in Congress are currently pushing for $40 billion in cuts. Democrats have countered with only $4 billion in cuts to food stamps. Must we balance the budget by taking food out of the mouths of poor children and adults? It seems the same people who argue against raising wages are also for decreasing other benefits that low wage workers often depend upon.
Right now, the results of Dube’s study indicate that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would lift nearly 5 million non-elderly Americans out of poverty. If we do this, those people will will no longer need assistance getting enough to eat, and the reduction of people receiving food stamps will naturally decrease the cost of the program. If we choose to continue to allow the minimum wage to stagnate, all of those people will continue to need assistance. By cutting benefits and refusing to raise the minimum wage, we are telling millions Americans to go hungry.
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