Minimum wage refers to the lowest remuneration that employers may legally pay to the employees. Below this minimum, the workers may not be willing to sell their labor. The laws on minimum wages exist in many states with the minimum wage varying depending on the states. Those advocating for an increase in minimum wage argue that a rise in minimum wage raise the standards of living of the employees, reduces poverty, decreases the gap between the wealthy and the have-nots, enhances morale, and make the organizations or business to work efficiently.
The minimum wage is passed by means of a ballot initiative, a form of direct democracy which gives the public a say on important matters. A ballot initiative provides citizens an avenue to propose laws and constitutional amendments without seeking the support of their representatives e.g. the Governor or the Legislature. A total of 15 states has so far voted for and passed minimum wage question in ballots. Even though the Democratic Party has been more outspoken on the issue than the Republicans, the approval of minimum wage raise has taken a bipartisan approach at the state level. Some of the Republican States which have so far affected the increment include Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota.
In several states, the minimum wage has been on a steady rise. In the last general election, voters in the states of Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington voted to increase their state minimum wage. For instance, in the state of Arizona, the minimum wage will increase from $8.05 to $12 per hour by 2020. In Colorado, there will be an increase in minimum wage from $8.31 to $12 an hour by 2020. In this state, the increased minimum wage will be beneficial to two million workers. In Maine, the minimum wage will by increased by a dollar every year to reach $12 by 2020. Lastly, in Washington workers will eventually earn a minimum wage of $13.50 an hour by 2020. The increased minimum wage also comes with other benefits. For example, in Arizona and Washington, the workers will get a paid sick leave (Sahadi, 2016).
Apart from general agitation for an increase in minimum wage, employees unions have also advocated for $15 minimum wage. The highest minimum wage of $15 has been realized in the state of California and New York only across all sectors of employment. Other states moving in this direction include Connecticut and New Jersey which have so far introduced bills on the same. On the other hand, some states have effected a minimum wage of $15 in specific sectors of economy or employment. For instance, in Massachusetts, $15 minimum wage is given to home care workers only. In cities of California, $15 minimum wage is awarded to public sector employees and contractors (Sahadi, 2016).
Even though the minimum wage raise has been well-received by workers, business lobbies have vehemently opposed the move. Opponents of minimum wage raise, especially business lobbies, argue that the move will lead to decreased employment opportunities, rendering some of the workers jobless and plunging them into more misery. They also claim that increase will drive up the cost of doing business thus leading to the closure of some businesses. Lastly, increased minimum wage may lead to an increase in the prices of goods and services thus negatively impacting workers lives.
Sahadi, J. (2016, November 9). 4 states just voted to hike their minimum wage. CNN. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2016/11/09/pf/minimum-wage-state-elections/index.html?category=pf
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