Holmes: Minimum wage increase benefits everyone involved

Shannon Holmes

In 1990, 24 years ago, Iowa’s first minimum wage was put into effect at $2.85 per hour. Since then, our state’s minimum wage has risen steadily. This includes tipped minimum wage, which was not established until about ten years ago. As college students, many of us are working at part-time, minimum wage jobs, that are just barely paying the bills. What if Iowa were to raise the minimum wage by at least two dollars?

Recently, there has been political talk about raising the minimum wage (for un-tipped positions) in Iowa to at least $10.10. This topic has been pegged as a priority for the Iowa legislature, and even the United States Senate is giving the option of raising wage a long, hard thought. Depending on who you talk to, this is either the best idea — one that could pull us out of an economic slump — or we are dooming our country.

What do I think? Well, yeah. Give me the money! Raise the minimum wage! I, like many other college students, am classified as “starving,” because we simply do not have the time or energy to work enough to pay for everything we possibly need in college. Between activities, clubs, projects that require extra materials, gas, rent and everything else under the sun, we usually come up dry at the end of our paycheck. While I am getting paid a shoddy wage of $7.25 an hour, I am not able to make dues.

Unfortunately for us most minimum wage jobs that college students work, have absolutely no opportunity for promotion. If they do it is a nice 10 cent raise. For example, if you were to work at ShopKo for two years, got a yearly raise, finally making it to about $8 an hour, and got promoted to sales floor supervisor, you would get paid approximately $8.20 an hour. Whoop-di-doo. You would be getting paid 20 cents more to do twice the amount of work.

There are pros and cons to raising the minimum wage, as with most economic issues. Many higher-class Iowa residents are nervous, because a new minimum wage will affect how taxes are sized throughout Iowa, and may land very heavily on their wallets. However, they should not be the ones worrying. Call it charity, you are helping others support their families and feed themselves.

Others worry that instead of raising employment throughout the United States and more locally, Iowa, a raise in the minimum wage will decrease the number of employees a company will be willing to hire. As someone who has had plenty of jobs, and has received raises in all of them, this is ridiculous. A company will hire just the right amount of people that will get the job done. No more, and usually no less. If employees earn more, they will spend more, inadvertently cycling the money back into the company.

I worked in Florida at an internship last semester, and I was paid the statewide minimum wage, which was $7.90 an hour. Unfortunately, I moved back to an even lower minimum wage in Iowa before they raised Florida’s hourly minimum wage to $11.

So what would happen if we get paid just two dollars more? If a new minimum wage is passed, we gain money and opportunity. If it is not, nothing changes. We already know how much we need to work in order to live, but if nothing is changed, if nothing is done differently, how can those of us in entrance level work improve our situation? Our dead-end, low paying jobs are going to become tiresome eventually, and then we will move to another dead-end job until we find a permanent internship or graduate and kick-start our career. 

Raising the minimum wage would be beneficial to all involved. Low income workers get more money, it would not affect the workforce, and our economy will hopefully start making a surge upwards. I say we poke and prod the Iowa legislature consistently until they give us hardworking, college kids the wage we deserve.