My opinion of the minimum wage is this: nobody can live on minimum wage. However, I also believe that a lot of minimum wage jobs like working at fast food restaurants were designed with teenagers in mind. They were made for people that didn’t need to support themselves off their wages. There was a time in the United States when the majority of people could get jobs that didn’t require college degrees and make a perfectly fine life for themselves. Sadly, many of the skilled labor jobs have disappeared. That leaves us, as a nation, with the idea that we must obtain a college education to succeed. According to a College Board survey, the average cost PER YEAR of a college education at a 4-year, public, in state school is $22,826. Private schools median cost PER YEAR, $44,750. College Board was smart and included room and board, tuition, meal plans and “added fees” to their cost estimates so it gives a fairly well rounded view. What’s crucial is this: starting college in 2013 and assuming it takes you 8 semesters to graduate, you will pay an estimated $91,448 for your education. And that’s only if you have access and can gain admittance to a public, in state school. The median income for U.S. households in 2011 was $50,054, varying widely dependent on what state you live in. So perhaps rather than upping the minimum wage by some $5/hr like some states are debating, we should work on a way to lower the cost of education and present Americans with the opportunity to acquire the skills our nation demands they have.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” -Ben Franklin
(If you were wondering, it would take almost 13,000 hours for someone working a minimum wage job to pay for 4 years at a public school, assuming they were only taxed 6% and 100% of their income went to school.)