Should the US Raise the National Minimum Wage?

In a recovering economy, pundits and legislators are cautious to support any policy that may possibly hinder job growth, or worse, increase unemployment. For generations, politicians have been debating whether or not a higher minimum wage will boost or hinder an economy. Do the cutbacks from employers and increased prices discourage consumers, or does a stronger middle class improve the entire economy? There is no clear-cut answer to this question.

The highest minimum wage in the nation is in San Francisco at $10.55/hr, compared to $7.25/hr nationally. Minimum wage workers in San Francisco still claim the wage is not enough to live on, and some are urging legislators to raise it to at least $15/hr. The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce as well as the Golden Gate Restaurant Association oppose a minimum wage increase.

“It’s difficult for employees in a larger market, when you have an artificially higher minimum wage in San Francisco than in Marin or other counties in the area,” said Jim Lazarus, vice president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, according to the San Francisco Public Press. “When you’re competing in the entry-level job market, you may get more applicants in San Francisco, because you offer higher wages, but it has hindered job growth at the local level.”

President Barack Obama has proposed raising the national minimum wage to $9/hr. Low-wage workers are more likely to experience harassment, discrimination and wage theft. Would you support legislation to raise the national minimum wage?

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Tip of the week: According to the Economic Analysis and Research Network at the Economic Policy Institute, raising the minimum wage to $9/hr would increase workers wages by $1.5 billion.

Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles employment attorneys