In his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama called on the U.S. Congress to increase the current minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.
Summer Whiteside, a sophomore, is one of many high school students that works a low wage job. She feels that there should be a living wage rather than a minimum wage.
“There needs to be difference between minimum wage and livable wage,” Whiteside said. “They need to both exist. You could possibly apply for living wage, send an application saying you have four kids and a husband who can’t work.”
A 40-hour per week job at the minimum wage does not provide enough money for people who need to support a family.
“Sometimes you can’t work a full-time job while you’re in college and get paid minimum wage to help pay for college,” Whiteside said. “This may discourage people from going to college because of money issues.”
Obama first called on Congress to raise the national minimum wage nearly two years ago. While Congress has not acted, there have been 17 states raising their minimum wages either through referendum or legislation since then.
“To everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise,” Obama said to the Washington Examiner.
According to www.washingtontimes.com, 16 percent of high school students have part-time jobs now as opposed to the 32 percent of high schoolers who had part-time jobs in 1990. Entry-level positions are more commonly filled by adults who are available to work at all hours of the day.
“Our jobs are not fun. We do a lot of work for not a lot of money. They are busy and loud and when you get paid minimum wage there is a stigma that you are uneducated. We get treated poorly because we get low level jobs,” Whiteside said.
If minimum wage were increased, 2 million citizens would be lifted out of poverty and 30 million workers would see a direct or indirect result of the boost, according to www.epi.org.
“It will make people mad because as soon as you raise the wage prices go up, everything goes up. That’s just how it is going to be,” Whiteside said. “When the prices go up since we are earning more money, we will spend it on the things we want, but not necessarily need.
By Brandan Naef