Should Minimum Wage Be $8.50?

man empty pockets 3435
Getty Images

When times are tough should minimum wage workers get a raise?

That was the topic in Sacramento on Wednesday where politicians are pushing to raise the minimum wage from $8 to $8.50 an hour.

“There's janitors, there's retail workers, there's restaurant workers, the hospitality industry,” said Clare Crawford with the Center on Policy Initiatives.

She says it's time to pay workers at the bottom of the pay scale a little bit more.

“If you're making $8 an hour right now you're not making your basic needs. Just to stay in your home, just to hopefully get health care you could actually really use that extra 50 cents an hour,” said Crawford.

But times are tough across the country. So is now really a good time to be giving anyone a raise?

“People are experiencing hard times right now. They're seeing gas prices go up, they're seeing food prices go up. They understand that the cost of living is a lot higher now and so there could be some sympathy for such a move,” said USD Economics Professor Alan Gin.

But it won't be an easy path.

The idea is just making the rounds in Sacramento and some are afraid raising wages could lead to fewer jobs.

“The thought is that people who are less skilled, don't have a lot of education, may not be worth $8 to $8.50 an hour and as a result employers might cut back on the amount of workers employed,” said Gin.

Not only are politicians discussing raising the minimum wage, but they also want to link future minimum wage increases to the cost of living.

“Well it seems that it would be more fair. If it continued to go up with inflation, if costs went up, people's wages would be able to go up to meet their needs,” said Crawford.

But tying minimum wage to the cost of living could make this increase even harder to sell.

“Every time the minimum wage is brought up there is a big political fight here. So if it is indexed to the rate of inflation that would take the political battles out of it,” said Gin.

The bill in Sacramento pushing for the increase is called AB 10. If it passes, the increase would take effect January 1 of 2012.

Contact Us