I am a mother of a recent college graduate and my frustration with the poor employment prospects for the young has deepened over time. A New York Times editorial entitled, “Where Have All the Raises Gone?” (March 2, 2014), noted the stagnation and decline of American workers’ wages predates the Great Recession. In fact, since 2002 the pay for less educated workers has declined while the salaries of college educated workers has stagnated.
The loss of earning capacity for all workers, whether as the result of routine raises or fair hourly wages, is killing the “can do” optimism that has defined America for generations. As the editorial states, “many college graduates have taken jobs that do not require college degrees and, in the process, have displaced less-educated, low-skilled workers.” A February 18th study conducted by the Congressional Budget Office reported from 1979-2011, the share of workers earning less than $10 per hour aged 25 to 64 grew from 48 to 60 percent. The share of low-wage earners with some college education grew from 25 to 43 percent.
Sadly, regardless of the education level of the worker, earning the minimum wage is insufficient to keep families out of poverty. Ten million American workers live in poverty and 3 million of the working poor have full-time jobs; a disproportionate number are women and many are single mothers.
This is not the future I want for my children or grandchildren. President Obama has asked Congress to raise the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10. This could potentially lift 4.6 million American workers out of poverty.
Let’s get behind the President and ask Congress to raise the minimum wage.