The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 for over a decade. Although some states took matters into their own hands and raised the minimum, the federal government has been slow to act.
As the battle wages ever on about what people deserve for their labor versus the cost of living, the internet questions the point of minimum wage and asks how much it should be to account for inflation.
Original Minimum Wage Law
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed our current minimum wage law, a component of the Fair Labor Standards Act, into law in 1938.
Propaganda stating that the minimum wage was intended for high schoolers and never meant to be a living wage is blatantly false.
Roosevelt himself said, “It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.”
The point of minimum wage was always to ensure that employees earned a living wage.
What Should Minimum Wage Be?
What a “living wage” should include is up for debate.
“The minimum wage should be calculated by the minimum necessary for food, shelter, health, and education. Should be about 26/hr,” stated one Reddit user.
“FDR wanted it to, at bare minimum, equate to a living wage—so the things you said in addition to carrying for dependents in the household,” added another.
Some said the minimum wage should also allow a certain amount of discretionary spending, as one of the key reasons for implementing a minimum wage was to stimulate the economy.
Current Minimum Wage is Not Sufficient
Internet users lamented the current minimum wage, saying it’s impossible to get by on $7.25 an hour with a full-time job.
“That minimum wage isn’t even enough to qualify to rent any apartments around here. Everywhere you could rent requires that you earn at least 3 1/2 times the rent amount,” said one user.
“How do they expect anyone to live on $7.25??” asked another.
Need Massive Change
Others pointed out that it’s gotten so bad that an incremental change won’t do anything.
“Even at $18 working 40 hours a week after taxes and insurance, I’m only taking home $2K a month. Even $20 an hour won’t be enough, especially when you’re single,” said one user.
“It should have been $15, like 20 years ago,” added another.
“The real question is, why isn’t it $26 an hour to keep up with inflation?” asked a third.
And They Wonder Why No One Wants To Work
The conversation about wages leads back to the common refrain that nobody wants to work anymore.
It’s true; they don’t.
Nobody wants to toil at a job for 40+ hours per week and still not be able to survive.
“The only choice many of us got is to try to game the system and/or leave the country if we want a chance at a decent living,” said one user.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.