The following is the opinion of a cranky old man with little knowledge on the subject opined. Opposing opinions are welcome. They will be ignored, but they are welcome, and please, no name calling…that means you, you big stupid head!
There are some jobs which by the nature of the education and or skill set required to accomplish the task do not require a minimum wage. Businesses have to compete for qualified engineers, doctors, teachers (yes, even teachers,) shortstops and quarterbacks. Salaries are driven strictly by supply and demand.
There are some jobs which require little to no education or special skill set to accomplish the required task. These are the jobs that I have been told Americans will not take and that is why we need more immigrants. Now it seems that Americans do take these jobs, and they are not able to make ends meet because supply and demand keeps wages so low.
These jobs used to be held almost exclusively by teenagers or part timers just looking for some extra spending money. Now they are held by single parents who have to decide on paying the rent or putting food on the table for their children. These are “Minimum Wage Jobs.”
Why do we have a minimum wage? There is no maximum wage requirement to protect employers against greedy workers with special skills that are in high demand. Well Professional Baseball had one for a while but it was ruled unconstitutional. We have minimum wage laws to protect against employers taking unfair advantage of workers.
I thought unions took care of that issue.
Well, yes but there are some areas of employ where it is extremely difficult to organize workers. Workers do need some level of protection and even a conservative such as myself believes minimum wage laws are necessary.
At what level should these wages be set? Should the wage be set to guarantee every worker a living wage? What is a living wage? If the worker has eight children should that person be guaranteed a higher wage then others? That sounds like a fine idea. Except I’ll bet it would be very hard for workers with eight children to find an employer. Those greedy employers would probably hire workers with less children.
The problem with a minimum wage is if it is too low, it is meaningless. If it is too high, it restricts employment and hurts the people it is aimed at helping. When I was in school, I worked at a minimum wage, $.85 an hour and later $1.15. I would have worked for less, hell I only needed gas money and something to do. Believe me the jobs I worked would not attract anyone from Mexico today, but I was glad to have a law to keep employers from completely ripping me off.
There were jobs that paid below minimum wage. Kids would mow lawns, shovel snow or baby sit for 50 cents an hour. Somehow in my neighborhood that was the accepted under the table minimum wage. It was just a given that no one would work for less than 50 cents an hour. I imagine their exists an accepted under the table minimum wage today.
The question remains, what is a fair minimum wage. The answer is it should be the highest possible rate which would have the least negative effect on employment.
The current rate, $8.25 an hour in New Jersey, may not be high enough to entice some workers off the public dole. The wage number I hear bandied about is $15 an hour. Would that keep employers from hiring?
Look, I don’t know what rate the minimum wage should be, but for sure some jobs will never pay enough to comfortably support a family of four. Higher minimum wages is not a long term solution to a poverty issue. The real way to effectively raise minimum wages is to reduce minimum wage workers.
Our long term goal should be to provide better education and skill development. Provide training for higher paying jobs in high school and even Jr. High. We need chefs, plumbers, machinists, electricians, HVAC installers, and computer technicians. We probably spend too much money in college on History and Philosophy degrees. Perhaps many high school kids should be in intern programs learning marketable trades instead of learning algebra and chemistry.
For the short term the minimum wage should probably be higher than it is today. I don’t believe it has kept pace with inflation.
I am warming up my “Wal-Mart greeting wave.” If the minimum wage is upped to $18 an hour, I am coming out of retirement.
The preceding was the opinion of a cranky old man and not necessarily that of management…Mrs. Cranky.