Over the past year minimum wage has become a major topic of debate throughout the entire country. Some states likes Washington and Vermont have passed laws to raise their minimum wage to ten dollars or more an hour by 2017. Despite what critics have predicted, data from Department of Labor shows that states who have already raised their minimum wage have seen greater job growth than states that have not. A new study has also shown that raising the federal minimum wage to around ten dollars would lift five to six million Americans out of poverty.
With wages stagnant at only $7.25 an hour, families and individuals are often not able to meet their basic needs. The majority of low-wage jobs also do not offer benefits such as paid sick leave or pensions, making it difficult to plan for the future. Oxfam America shows that increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would benefit more than 25 million workers in the United States. Increased income for low income families would mean greater spending, accounting for two-thirds of the U.S. economy.
Women seem to be the majority effected by low-paying jobs. They make up 55 percent of low-income workers, which means in several Congressional districts, one in three women would get a raise. Increasing the minimum wage would not only help women out of poverty but aid in closing the gender-pay gap by five percent. Children would also reap the benefits of a higher minimum wage, nearly 14 million children would witness their families income increase, leading them out of poverty.
Recent numbers shown by the National Employment Law Project states that most of the jobs created in the past year are low-wage jobs, accounting for nearly three out of five jobs. This means that low paying jobs lie at the center of the current economic recovery. Raising the minimum wage would increase the likelihood of economic improvements, while reducing the estimated $243 billion spent on welfare programs. When families and individuals are earning a livable wage their need to rely on a publicly funded safety net is no longer needed.