By Tyrone C. Richardson Jr.
CCC Journalism Program
Presidential candidates and local workers are divided on whether the United States should increase the minimum wage.
The federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 an hour. Some states, including New Jersey, have a higher minimum wage. Some people support increasing the federal minimum wage to $12 or $15 an hour, claiming workers cannot live on less than that.
Democrat Hillary Clinton, in an April 14, 2016, debate with Sen. Bernie Sanders, said she had initially supported raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour but did not reject Sanders’ proposal to increase it to $15 an hour.
Mylissa Hahn, 40, a manager of a Pep Boys in Berlin Township, said whether a worker could live off the current minimum wage depended on a variety of situations, such as “are they young still living at home, college students trying to pay for tuition, or someone trying to raise a family.” She said her company does not start its employees at minimum wage.
The U.S. Congress would have to pass and the president would have to sign legislation for the federal minimum wage to increase.
Republican Donald Trump, in an Aug. 20, 2015 interview, stated, “I think having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing,” but, in a July 26, 2016 interview, said he would support raising the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour.
Andrew Kurpat, 24, a kitchen supervisor and criminal justice and business administration student, said the current minimum wage is fair for “unskilled” work and is not meant to be a living wage but could be. “Raising the minimum wage slightly would also increase the amount of taxes that you have to pay out of your check and can also lower the amount of money returned to you. As wages increase, the government would increase the amount of taxes,” Kurpat stated.
Camden County College Political Science Professor Patrick Hughes said since 1960 the minimum wage has gone up in comparison to living costs, noting the minimum wage of $1 an hour in 1960 equates to $7.59 an hour today.