Letter to the editor: Minimum wage

by Illiana Murphy, Special to the Simpsonian

To the Editor of the Simpsonian, 

There are few problems that can’t be solved with money; which is why the minimum wage needs to be raised. 2009 was the most recent update to the federal minimum wage, and now $7.25 is severely lacking. 

First of all, raising the minimum wage will help build more racial and gender equality. Women make up 65% of the population who make $7.25/hour. Whereas, people of color represent 12% of the United States, but account for 20% of the population making minimum wage (US Bureau of Labor Statistics). By increasing the pay rate for these workers, the federal government is supporting a more equitable nation. 

Moreso, the minimum wage is simply not enough. A single person household must make at least $15 an hour, full time, all year to not be living in a state of poverty. Simply raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 will lift 3.1 million people out of poverty, including 1.3 million children out of poverty (EPI). Back in 2009, $7.25 might have been enough, but with the pandemic and the rising inflation- it is impossible to survive on that little. To put it into perspective, someone making minimum wage would have to work 93 hours a week, all year long to make enough money to not live in poverty (Britannica). 

The average cost of rent in Iowa is $941. The average cost for groceries per month for a household of four is $412. The cheapest medical care plan for a family of four is $30 a month. The average car payment in the United States for a used car is $465. The average family of four

spends $1800 per year on clothes. The average amount a college student in Iowa pays for a public university is $9,966. Life is expensive. 

Now, there is an argument on the opposite side saying that businesses can’t afford to pay workers $15 an hour, and that it will make unemployment worse. However, there have already been states who have slowly increased the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and it has been worth the risk. The economy has actually benefited from people being paid more money, as people now have more money to spend. According to the Economic Policy Institute, raising the federal minimum wage would “inject $2.1 billion net into the economy and create about 85,000 new jobs over a three-year phase-in period”. In the long run, workers are more productive when they’re making more money, and also tend to stay longer at that job. Businesses will simply have to adjust, and take the raise into account as part of national growth. 

Minimum wage has to change, whether it is decided by the states or the federal government, $7 dollars is not cutting it. 


Illiana Murphy