The answer is not a federal wage, nor is it $15 an hour. The United States is one of the few countries where the minimum wage is determined by lawmakers, in many others, economists bear that responsibility based on a formula.
Over the last 60 years or so, the United States has raised its minimum wage through various pieces of legislation, however, when adjusted for inflation, it is evident that the United States there has not necessarily been an increase in minimum wage. This is forcing many to take up an upwards of two or three jobs to to support their family. The numbers become even more depressing when it comes to single-family households and single family households of color. Many have been advocating that the federal minimum wage increase. Right now it is currently $7.25.
An overall increase is the most responsible initiative the federal government could take, however, it is not within their scope of understanding to quantify what the increase should be. Other countries have a number of factors that contribute to making their decision as to what the living wage should be. In China, the living wage is determined by city or by district, which is able to acknowledge the economic disparity between cities. Another example is Britain. Britain actually has a separate entity that determine to what extent the living wage should increase. This is an important question because they are past the conversation as to whether or not it should increase, something the United States Congress just can’t seem to get over.
Britain’s “Low Pay Commission” consists of proxies from unions, academics and even economists to get a better sense of what the living wage should be while taking into account the cost of living in certain areas.
As the United States prepares itself for a potential recession, it’s time that we embrace new economic doctrines for the amelioration of our country, or else we’re in big trouble.
Header Credit: Jordi Franch Parella, PhD in Economics and Professor of Business Administration-ADE Studies at Manresa Campus of the UVIC-UCC