OPINION: Raising minimum wage will bring workers back

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Illustration by Mattheau Faught/The Et Cetera

The pandemic has made my job at a grocery store chain much more difficult. Not only am I vulnerable to the coronavirus, but it’s difficult to deal with customers who don’t know their boundaries, and there are not enough workers.

Customers have come into my workplace without a mask and proceeded to cough and sneeze without attempting to cover up. This is disgusting and has long-lasting effects. At the same time, coworkers left for better-paying jobs where they would not have to deal with these customers.

As a result of these circumstances, my company decided to raise the starting wage. I was fortunate enough to be there to receive the raise. Others, however, are not so lucky.

Imagine you are working hard for 8 hours a day at your full-time job, and you only earn $7.25 for every hour. In just over half of the states in the United States, including Texas, this is the minimum wage.

Many companies have begun to falter because their employees are quitting. There are many reasons why employees quit working for these places but the main one is the wage they are receiving.

To increase the employment rate, the minimum wage must be raised to match the cost of living. There is no reason for the minimum wage to be the same in 2021 as it was in 2009, while the cost of living has gone up 29% in the same time span, according to CBS News.

The federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is not beneficial to anyone, except companies, as prices continue to increase across the country.

For college students, it is a challenge to pay for school and other necessities while only making minimum wage. Many have to work multiple jobs to support themselves but that is difficult with the coronavirus still around.

Based on a map from Economic Policy Institute, in Dallas County alone, if adjusted to the cost of living, the minimum wage would need to be $16.85. This is on the lower end of the spectrum. On the higher end, the wage would need to be as much as $30.

If companies want to keep their employees, they need to have a higher starting wage, adjust wages to support their employees and insist customers conform to coronavirus safety measures.

Some people may argue that increasing the minimum wage would lead to prices going up. Others believe the reason people are not returning to work is because they are lazy and are living off unemployment.

First, to counter the claim that prices would go up, there is the fact that prices have been going up and will continue to go up. To have a livable wage, the minimum wage needs to be adjusted and increased according to the cost of living.

Next is the idea that people are living off their unemployment checks. Many people lost their jobs due to the pandemic, so the government gave disaster relief benefits. This can cause people to believe that those drawing unemployment are lazy and do not want to work, but the truth is, they are just not able to work.

As adults, we realize just how much money is needed to support ourselves, and the minimum wage does not reflect it. We are due a higher minimum wage so we are not forced to overexert ourselves.

Eduardo Chavez is a contributor and journalism major.

https://eastfieldnews.com/24410/opinions/opinion-not-getting-the-vaccine-has-dire-consequences/