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Students express support for federal minimum wage increase

Early this month, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour, in three steps, each one incrementally raising the wage by 95 cents. 3.6 million Americans make an hourly wage at or below the minimum federal mandate and roughly half of these workers are under the age of 25, according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Senior Carly Rohrer said she believes the bill would have a positive effect on young adults trying to save cash and balance their job with their education.

photo by Morgan Berk
photo by Morgan Berk

“I think [the bill] is a really good idea,” Rohrer said. “It gives younger people like high school and college students an opportunity to make a decent amount of money and even save up for loans or living expenses.”

Rohrer said the federal minimum wage of $7.25 is not sufficient for young employees. A raise in the minimum wage would decrease the financial burden on teens and effectively prepare them for future careers, she said.

“I think [the current minimum wage] is too low because if we want to earn enough to pay for things like cars and phones and living expenses then we are going to have to work like 30 hours weeks on top of school and that’s just really stressful,” Rohrer said. “This would give people more of an opportunity to succeed and it presents a chance to be more responsible entering the adult word and the advanced job world.”

Brian Laupp, Joint Venture General Manager at Panera Bread, said the bill is a good idea for businesses who have employees earning minimum wage. Employees earning more money per hour tend to be more motivated in the workplace, he said, and this increases the quality of their effort.

“Overall, I think it would be a positive move to raise the minimum wage,” Laupp said. “An associate that makes a ‘fair wage’ is usually going to be more productive and carry a better attitude while working.”

Senior Chormaic Sullivan, who makes $9.00 per hour working at Trey Bistro, said he would be pleased to see the bill passed by congress. Not only would it make saving money easier for himself and high schoolers, he said, but it could also benefit our economy as a whole.

“I hope it passes,” Sullivan said. “I’m not an economist but I think when the minimum wage goes up then other prices of other good and services will eventually rise up too and it will counterbalance that.”

[pullquote]”An associate that makes a ‘fair wage’ is usually going to be more productive and carry a better attitude while working.”

-Brian Laupp[/pullquote]Laupp agreed that the economy could benefit from a minimum wage increase. However, he said the bill could prove harmful to the success of smaller businesses.

“In theory, the economy would also get a boost with millions of people increasing their income by up to 20%,” Laupp said.  “I would be a little concerned for small businesses having to pay out more, especially with Obamacare.  Our country could see a lot of price increases to make up the difference.”

Laupp said the bill would be especially beneficial for employees supporting their families on a minimum wage salary. Despite the increase in quality of life for some individuals, he said some companies may need to adjust their finances to accommodate a raise in the minimum wage.

“I think employees that work for bigger companies would definitely be in a better position to take care of their households,” Laupp said. “However, small businesses may have to downsize or cut back on hours to make up for payroll.”

Aside from the effect of the bill on families and businesses, Rohrer said an increase in the minimum wage would appeal to most high school students. She said that because these kids are generally the ones making the lowest wages while simultaneously balancing rigorous coursework, teenagers are bound to be most supportive of the new bill.

You’d be hard pressed to find a working high school student who doesn’t support the bill,” Rohrer said. “They’ll be able to make more money while still keeping up in a five days per week school schedule.”

By Anna Wright

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