We the People Need the Minimum Wage Raised

*Officially Published in the Northern Iowan*

     A typical day for a college student usually begins the same. We wake up, go through our morning hygiene rituals, all the while thinking about the things we need to accomplish for the day. Between school, student organizations and employment to stay above water, we are swamped and constantly on the move.  

     After a long day, we check our bank accounts and see the part-time minimum wage job we are working to help get us through school has failed yet again to help cover our expenses. Even though we worked 20 hours in the last two-week pay period, after taxes we were only able to come up with about $130. 

     Sure, that may seem like enough money to get the average college student by for two weeks, but between groceries, gas, rent, utilities and anything else you may need to survive, we are bound to end up with the short end of the stick. 

     Clearly one could argue you did not work enough hours last week and that you should get another job, but that is impossible due to course-load and countless hours of unpaid internships and volunteer work that you are participating in to build up your resume, so that after you graduate, you can hopefully get a job that will bring in at least 20K a year. 

     It used to be that by simply earning a Bachelor’s Degree would guarantee you job security and a salary a family of four could easily live on. However, earning your degree is not enough to secure a job in the market today. 

     Despite public outcry and emphasis on raising the minimum wage from the Obama Administration, Congress has failed to act on this issue. The Republican-dominated congress has spent most of their time trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and attacking President Obama on almost any decision he makes. 

     It comes to no surprise that congress has not decided to act on the issue of minimum wage.

     The main argument from the opposing side of raising minimum wage is that by raising the minimum wage, it will reduce the availability for jobs and reduce employment. However, this theory has been proven wrong more than once. 

     States who have already raised their State’s minimum wage beyond the federal wage have already seen higher job growth than states that have not increased their minimum wage. 

     Senate Candidate Republican Joni Ernst has said the current federal wage of $7.25 was “appropriate” for Iowa and has even gone on to say she does not support a federal minimum wage, but thinks it should be a state’s decision to set minimum wage. 

     Unfortunately for Ernst, she has not paid attention to what citizens in her own state say about the current federal minimum wage.

     A recent poll, commissioned by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, found that 80 percent of Iowans say they could not support their household on Iowa’s minimum wage, which amounts to about $15,000 per year.  Still Ernst takes the position that the current minimum wage is working for Iowans. 

     Raising the minimum wage would increase wages for 306,000 Iowans and would life 26,000 Iowans out of poverty. Also, not only does not raising the minimum wage prevent Iowa’s economy from growing, several studies done by MIT have proven that a family of three in Des Moines needs to make $52,362 a year to meet the minimum standards of living. 

     Although the facts have been consistent and the theories by Ernst and other fellow Republicans, it seems Ernst is decided to ignore Iowans wants and continue with her dangerous and harmful agenda on the federal minimum wage. 

     As we continue to work for $7.25 an hour, the average college student can’t help but wonder if anyone cares about our well-being. Already we are seeing interest rates grow as college loans continue to skyrocket, and without any progress coming out of congress, it seems as college students we are underpaid, profit centers around our government. 

     It is important to remember Midterm November elections are quickly approaching, and we the people can vote candidates out as we do in. Do you want a congress that focuses on growing and strengthening our economy by providing its citizens with a wage that is reasonable, or do you want to continue with our Republican-majority House of Representatives who would rather waste your tax dollars by refusing to pass any legislation drafted by Democrats? I guess that choice is inevitably going to be the decision of We the People come November. 

Riley Cosgrove