Guest Post: Fight for $15 is About All of Us

There is a want in this land where a person’s salary cannot support the person. We have a nation with riches beyond imagining and poverty that is only too real. Remarkably, most don’t complain about this arrangement.

F415The rising tides of our economy are supposed to raise all boats, yet the majority of boats seem to be under water. Since 1980, almost all gains in economic growth have gone to the top one percent of wage earners; since the Great Recession of 2007, all gains have gone to the top one percent.  Having almost all boats sink below the waves has a real cost to everyone. If the average American paycheck kept pace with economic growth of the last two decades, it would be 60 percent larger today. Why do the majority of Americans accept not sharing in and benefitting from our country’s economic growth?

The whisper of lies in many ears drowns out indigent cries from those who speak the truth. Since the birth of minimum wage, a lie has been whispered that has crept into the minds of people: namely, that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss.

That lie is insidious for its simplicity and its believability, yet it is a lie. In 1992, New Jersey raised the state’s minimum wage 18.8 percent. A research paper by David Card and Alan Krueger found that NJ’s increase in the minimum wage resulted in faster employment growth. In fact, employment growth outpaced neighboring states that did not increase minimum wage. A second research paper by the same authors followed up the work in 1998 and not only confirmed the results of the first paper, but showed sustained growth the beat neighboring states. Another research paper in 1992 by Laurence Katz and Alan Krueger used data from Texas and came to the same conclusion as the New Jersey study. Let us call out the truth: that raising the minimum wage is not a job killer.

Over the last 30 years, our country’s economic growth has not benefitted all. Raising the minimum wage creates more economic opportunity for those who have long been increasingly been left behind. When economic opportunity expands, everyone benefits. Raising the minimum wage gives more people the financial means to better their lives. When those people spend money, it creates the need for goods and services. The economy grows and everyone benefits.

Restricting wages and creating poverty doesn’t grow our economy, it stunts its growth. Raising wages will help pull people out of poverty, and ultimately we will all benefit. We need to complain loudly about a financial arrangement that leaves the majority struggling while the smallest minority benefits. We need to unite and raise our voices for economic growth that benefits us all. That’s what the Fight for $15 is about.

Think of the plight friends, family and even your own youth when it comes to low wages, and join the fight for sharing the growth in the economy that you make happen. I hope you’ll join me in the Fight for $15.

Jeremy Dupuis

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