Minimum wage increase poses an optimistic future for earners

Karissa Lynaugh, Writer

By 2016, minimum wage earners can expect to see their wages increase to ten dollars an hour. Those who earn minimum wage see this as a step in the right direction, while small business owners are concerned they will have to hire less people.

State legislation approved the minimum wage increase to provide families with a more optimal income to live off of. With income inequality more prevalent, state senators are seeking an increase to even out the playing field.

“It has been proven that the current minimum wage is not enough to live off of when you have to support a family,” senior and job holder Sarah Sheets said.

During the late twentieth century, the minimum wage was below six dollars; now with an almost four dollar increase since then, minimum wage earners face an optimistic future.

“So many people live on minimum wage and have to support a family,” Sheets said. “With that kind of investment, it allows their kids to get a better education which in the end increases their economic opportunity which in general is better for the people who need it the most.”

While this increase helps minimum wage earners and their families, it poses an issue for small businesses. They must decide whether they can continue to employ the same amount of workers at the increased expense.

With this in mind, those opposed to the increase see this as an economic setback. Other critics argue setting the minimum wage too high could create barriers for teenagers trying to find entry-level jobs.

“Opposition is concerned about how it will cause businesses to cut back and hire less, but there have been many studies that say it is going to benefit our economy as a whole because people’s consumption would increase,” Sheets said. “This would help make up for the loss.”

The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. With California’s minimum wage at $9 currently and an expected dollar increase in 2016 California leads the nation in one of the highest minimum wages.

“Recently moving from Ohio, the minimum wage there is $7.25, so this is a nice increase,” junior Rachel Moeller said.

The increase in minimum wage poses obstacles for small businesses; however, it provides families living off of this as their income to live more comfortably.

“I think inflation is increasing more quickly than our minimum wage is — that is a problem.  At the same time, $10 is the minimum to provide for a family currently,” Sheets said. “In the future, minimum wage will have to go up if inflation continues to rise.”

Regardless of your position on minimum wage, the ten dollar minimum wage by 2016 will affect students who intend to hold jobs next year.