Saturday, September 14, 2013

Upped Minimum

Economic/labor news from the state capital.

Minimum wage workers in California would earn $10 an hour by 2016 under a bill passed by the legislature on Thursday, making the state likely to become the first in the nation to commit to such a high rate.

The bill, which Governor Jerry Brown said he will sign, would increase the minimum wage for hourly workers in the most populous U.S. state from the current rate of $8 an hour to $9 in July 2014, and to $10 by January 2016.

"The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs," Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement. "This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy." ...

Before Oswald gallops in and complains how awful this news is, allow me a few observations:

1) Of late, right-wing commentators have dissed fast food workers for demonstrating for higher pay. They say the burger flippers are greedy and delusional, and the godd*mn Fast Food Workers of America is behind the whole thing anyway. (Like your only allowed to wave a picket sign if you're in the Screen Actors Guild, the WGA, or TAG?)

Recently Fox commentator Neil Cavuto waxed nostalgic about his days earning $2 an hour as a 16-year-old fast food worker, and how $2 was fine by him. Except in 1974, when Cavuto was flipping burgers, the $2 wage was the equivalent of $9.47 per hour in 2013.

And the median age of fast food workers in the current economy is 28. Not 16.

2) Ten bucks an hour is hardly exorbitant in the wider scheme of things. In Australia, another country with lots of surfers and sunshine, the rate is north of $16 per hour.

And the Aussies have an unemployment rate of 5.8%. And an economy that is ticking along nicely (even though their unemployment rate has ticked up the last few months, from 5.7% to 5.8%.)

Me, I think the national minimum wage should be $10 per hour across the board. It's a way to spread a bit of the money around, especially since most of the money flows to the tippy-top of of our oh-so-deserving rich, and the present concentration of wealth is about where it was in 1928, when the concentration was at a record high.

Maybe if we raise the minimum wage to $16+ an hour like Australia, we can get our unemployment rate down to 5.8%


Unknown said...

The solution of this fast food problem is to increase the salary reasonable not too much.
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