Minimum Wage Hike Is Desperately Needed

To the Readers’ Forum:

When I was in high school, I worked at a grocery store in Jamestown and received minimum wage. This was adequate as my parents supported me financially. After working at this grocery store for awhile, I noticed that all the cashiers were not like me – some were single parents, some were college graduates working to pay off loans, and some were older adults who had retired and were working to supplement retirement and increase their savings. Many of these individuals were the financial providers for their families and for them the minimum wage is far too low to adequately cover health insurance, daycare, retirement savings, and other necessities that any job should allow someone to do.

Over the past few decades, American businesses have outsourced jobs overseas, leaving a lack of good-paying middle class jobs, especially in manufacturing (the classic middle class American job). Since then we have seen the middle class shrink drastically, with many people falling into the service sector of our economy which is dominated by part-time, low skilled, minimum wage labor. Many adults in today’s society are forced to support a family on these service sector jobs as they are the only jobs readily available to people who do not have a college degree.

Thus, I believe that this minimum wage hike is desperately needed by the working class in America and I’m glad to see New York State is stepping in the right direction. But, if anything, this legislation does not go far enough. All workers are entitled to a Living Wage that gives them the freedom to meet their family’s basic needs, afford healthcare costs, and save for retirement in order to be self-sufficent. Currently, many employers in New York State pay a Living Wage and this has had great success in bolstering local economies. Maybe a progressive idea like this would benefit us all?

Kevin McElrath