Flickr photo by Denis Bocquet

Why I oppose the $15 minimum wage

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By Kyle Franklin

I may be dipping my toes into very turbulent waters, but, I am opposed to the $15 minimum wage that many protesters are advocating. I recognize that this may not be a popular position (especially as many who frequent spokanefavs.com seem to be rather progressive in nature).

When I graduated from college in 2007 and started my first job, I made $30,000 annually.  To break it down, I was making $14.42 per hour. Between an apartment with a roommate, insurance, student loan payments, insurance, gas, utilities, student loans, and a variety of other monthly bills, I was barely able to rub two pennies together at the end of the month.  It was hard!

Six years later, I completed my master’s degree and had all of those same bills (along with several others and a few more student loans). Even with an advanced degree, I was unable to find gainful employment. I worked through a temp agency, then in a seasonal position, then in retail, then in another temp position, and finally started a steady, long-term position four weeks ago.

It was a rough two years and, with my new job, I am finally able to fend for myself, pay my bills, and be independent of odd-jobs and “birthday” money, “Christmas” money, “Valentine’s Day” money, and other “holiday” gift money that allowed me to go out for dinner and have a social life.

I am not opposed to people making a livable wage. If anything, the fact that I have lived on an unlivable wage for the last two years influences me into believing that all people should be able to make a living on their wages.

But I am also concerned for two main reasons.

The first is that I am just now able to enjoy some financial freedom. I have a long way to go, but only in the last month have I been able to afford to actually live. I fear that, with such drastic hikes in the minimum wage, the cost of living will soar. I fear that every industry will be forced to raise prices to recuperate the “loss” in profit due to reallocation to wages. I am concerned that the cost of basics will increase across the board: toiletries, clothing, even food. It is quite possible that the cost increases will make my current livable wage (for one person) unlivable again. Is it possible that “middle-class” families will be forced into poverty because the cost of living increases substantially?

Secondly, most of my jobs have been at non-profit organizations where the success of the organization is dependent on donations (mainly) and sometimes grants. Were non-profits to be required to pay every worker $15 per hour, they may be forced to lay-off employees or limit the services they provide to others in need. Even government organizations would be forced to reallocate money away from services to wages.

Again, I am not opposed to people making a livable wage. But I fear that the ramifications of simply increasing the minimum wage are not sufficiently being considered. I do not have the answer, but short-sightedness does not benefit anyone in the long-term.

Kyle Franklin

About Kyle Franklin

Kyle A. Franklin is a recent graduate of Gonzaga University, where he earned his Master's in Religious Studies. He completed his bachelor's degree in history and religion at Pacific Lutheran University in 2007 and has worked in both the ELCA Lutheran Church and the United Methodist Church.

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