December 7, 2023

Raising Minimum Wage: What the High Schooler Needs to Know

Minimum Wage Cartoon

Obama’s State of the Union address this year dealt with a broad range of subjects, from the economy to foreign diplomacy. One of the issues that will most directly effect teens was his idea to increase minimum wage. Obama wants raise the minimum wage to approximately nine dollars per hour. Many may take this at face value and think, “This is good, but I could probably make a little at my summer job.” However, the two dollars more may be the difference for some, between being employed and being unemployed.

The national minimum wage has been, for a while now, seven dollars and twenty-five cents. Certain states can, and have chosen to, raise the minimum wage but none can let it fall below the national minimum wage. New York State’s minimum wage is the same as the national amount, which is what most states follow as well. Let’s imagine the following scenario: You are so glad that you just got a summer job. It’s for eight five-day weeks, you will be working from nine to five, and receiving minimum wage. Now take a look at the changes if Obama signs into law the new minimum wage, nine dollars. While you are home, still excited about your job, your boss sees this and says “Hey, how much more is this kid going to get paid?” Some quick math says “this kid” will be paid 340 dollars more. “Whoa, that’s quite a bit, I think I may have to hire her for only four weeks.”

Many economists agree with the above theory – in the end, a job is at a business, and they need to do what’s best for their finances. If they need to pay that much more money for employees, they may just deem excess workers unnecessary, or outside their budget. Raising the minimum wage is not the answer at this time, and many high schoolers here at West agree. Isaiah Anthony, a sophomore, said, “Raising minimum wage makes it harder for teens to find jobs, partially because of underemployment.” However, some students disagree with this statement. Freshman Spencer Kirschman explained, “I’m happy because I get more cash in my pocket, and more money is being invested in the economy. I don’t see anything wrong with that.” Nevertheless, excess spending won’t have a huge impact – companies will more likely hire less workers, and those they do hire will certainly not be clean-sheeted-resume teens.

So for those teens looking for jobs, make sure you work on building your resume, because whether the minimum wage is $7.25 or $9.00, it will continue to be more difficult to find that ever-important summer job.