Quoted from Gornkleschnitzer:
Although this post was half the forum thread ago by now, I feel like a major element of this argument got swept under the rug.
I remember the first talk about raising the minimum wage all the way to $15 from - gasp! - $7.15 or whatever it was. This was one of the main arguments against it, along with "businesses won't be able to stay afloat paying this much in wages" as well as arguments that the minimum-wage jobs are NOT WORTH $15/hour.
And I'm quite certain those arguments are from people still living 30 years in the past and completely out of touch with the current value of the dollar.
Minimum wage, applied to bare minimum entry level jobs, exists for a basic purpose. To ensure that an employee spending their whole day working for an employer is, at MINIMUM (not quite a pun but certainly intended), able to afford to be a functioning human being, living under a roof. And for this reason, minimum wage is supposed to increase with inflation. You know, so that your entry level job, which pays the bare minimum that you need to be a functioning human being in society, is able to fund your food and rent, regardless of the current market price that everyone is paying for a loaf of bread.
Except, that's not what happened. Those complaining that YOU SHOULD NOT BE MAKING $15/hr FLIPPING MY BURGERS haven't been noticing that while the normal forces of inflation have steadily brought up the dollar amounts required to live a minimal life, minimum wage stopped being updated since at least the 1990s. So for over two decades now we've been learning to associate the $7-8 minimum wage as what an entry level worker should be making. All the while, the cost of living has drifted ever higher, so that those eight dollars can no longer support a single independent person anymore. Sure, it's not a problem for those living with parents or rooming with friends, but not everyone has that luxury. Do you think that person dutifully flipping the burgers you love to eat should be spending their free time living on the street, just because *most* of the other minimum wage workers have a place to stay rent-free?
The argument that "the owners cant pay the other staff more to balance it out"...? To the business, I say that's a you problem. Are you actually telling me that your waitstaff's work is so worthless to you that despite the fact that they work forty hours a week, they don't even deserve enough money to keep them out of a cardboard box under a bridge? If paying your employees the bare minimum they need to function in society is going to put your business under, then you need to rethink your business operations.
Oh, and the cook needs a raise. If the quality of his work is really 75% more valuable than your busboy, then the busboy should be making $15 (what minimum wage should have reached at this point, if not more) and the cook should be making $26. If you as an employer can't afford that, then maybe you shouldn't be promising - to borrow a saying from a certain infamous thread - a Ferrari at Kia prices.
Minimum wage and it's history is always an interesting topic to me.
Without a doubt FDR's intention was that minimum wage was supposed to be a living wage. His words on the subject with regard to his intent are unassailable.
As implemented, minimum wage was not a living wage, nor was it for decades (if ever). Minimum wage in inflation adjusted dollars vs the CPI is higher right now than it was for the first decade after the FLSA. Minimum wage purchasing power peaked over 50 years ago in 1970.
Of course, the goal posts of what a "living wage" is have shifted significantly since the 40's. I doubt many people would be happy owning a home with the exact same amenities offered in your typical 1940's dwelling.
The percentage of the labor force on minimum wage wasn't tracked until the end of the 70's when it was at approximately 13% of all jobs. Minimum wage jobs (not considering undocumented labor) dropped to only approximately 2% of the labor force by 2017 and to 1.5% by 2020. That said, that percentage only reflects those employees making exactly minimum wage.
So, just my humble opinion, federal minimum wage should be pushed to match it's inflation adjusted peak in 1970 and pegged to inflation at that point. Further, the impact on the total economy would be less severe than many would have you believe as the percentage of true minimum wage workers with regard to the total labor force is at one of the lowest points in history.