Thirteen states and many cities already did it. Now it’s time to also raise the federal minimum wage nationwide from the current $7.25 an hour.
Raising the federal minimum wage is a pressing need now, both for workers earning wages that condemn them to poverty as well as for the economy and the federal budget.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated a few months ago that a federal wage increase to $10.10 an hour would mean the potential loss of half a million jobs, but would also equal higher incomes for at least 10 million workers.
Meaning, it would raise the purchasing power of a group that does not keep the money but spends it quickly on basic products, benefitting retailers and the national economy.
At the same time, higher incomes can help workers become independent from public assistance programsfor example, food stampsby bringing them above the poverty line. This equals a decrease in the need for certain social programs. Undoubtedly, this is a goal for conservatives.
However, the most conservative lawmakers in Congress are still holding on to ideas from another era, like that minimum wage is for teenagers starting their work lives, which is not true.
Apocalyptic predictions about the impact of a wage raise have also been heard in Washington, as if the market were unable to adapt to new conditions.
Lastly, it is time to stimulate the economy through demand. Our country has spent decades focusing its attention on production, playing down the importance of demand, devaluing work.
This is a recipe that leads to economic stagnation and the end of the mobility that has characterized the American dream, which lets the middle class have aspirations that can be achieved through hard work and responsibility.
Labor Day should draw attention to strengthening the economy by once again valuing workers, instead of continuing to reward financial speculation.