President Obama’s first state of the union address in his second term touched on several initiatives including closing tax loopholes, changing government spending on Medicare, and improving infrastructures to entice companies for job growth. But one specific plan that will likely not pass a divided Congress is increasing federal minimum wage to $9.00 per hour. To some Republicans, it is an initiative that deters rather than encourages job growth.
Minimum wage laws were enacted to improve the standard of living for workers and reduce poverty. The federal minimum wage was last increased in 2009 to $7.25 per hour, permitting an individual to earn slightly over $15,000 a year. In some areas this would make him or her eligible for welfare benefits. If raised to $9.00 per hour, an annual income of $18,720, more families may live above the federal poverty level. According to msn.com, most Americans believe the cost of living is far above even $50,000 per year.
But sometimes fixing one problem creates new problems. Opponents of increasing the federal minimum wage, including Republicans and businesses, argue that it will increase unemployment particularly for low-skilled workers. Additionally, the people likely to benefit from an increase are children of high-income families seeking part-time jobs. Since we cannot have it all, what’s more important? Better paying jobs or the availability of jobs?