Should the minimum wage be raised

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					   Should the minimum wage be raised?

            A Deliberation Log

John Flaherty, Tara Hervas, Joseph McIntyre
       Robert O’Connor, Anisa Poole

Comm 280: Reasoning and Communication
            Dr. Waggoner
             Spring 2006

1. Is minimum wage fulfilling its purpose?

2. Are people working for minimum wage able to live a decent quality of life above the
poverty line?

3. Raising the minimum wage would have a negative effect on employees?


1. Some kind of minimum wage needs to exist.

2. No one wants or thinks poverty should exist.

3. The government needs to have some roll in what the minimum wage is and the laws

4. It is not comfortable to live off minimum wage.

5. Minimum wage jobs are usually hard labor, tough and have poor working conditions.

6. Minimum wage is the lowest ever relative to inflation.


Poverty: Following the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Statistical Policy
Directive 14, the Census Bureau uses a set of money income thresholds that vary by
family size and composition to determine who is in poverty. If a family’s total income is
less than the family’s threshold, then that family and every individual in it is considered
in poverty. The official poverty thresholds do not vary geographically, but they are
updated for inflation using Consumer Price Index (CPI-U). The official poverty
definition uses money income before taxes and does not include capital gains or non cash
benefits (such as public housing, Medicaid, and food stamps). (US Census Bureau)

Federal Minimum wage: For covered nonexempt employees is currently set at $5.15poer
hour. Federal minimum wage provisions are contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act
(FLSA). Many states also have their own minimum wage laws. (Firstgov,gov)

Fair Labor Standards Act: To provide for the establishment of fair labor standards in
employments in and affecting interstate commerce, and for other purposes.”(FLSA)
Poverty Line: the level of income below which one cannot afford to purchase all the
resources one requires to live. People who have an income below the poverty line have
no discretionary disposable income, by definition. (

Minimum Wage: The Federal wage for covered, nonexempt employees is currently set at
$5.15 an hour. Federal minimum wage provisions are contained in the Fair Labor
Standards Act. Many states also have minimum wage laws. Where an employee is
subject to both the state and federal minimum wage laws the employee is entitled to
higher of the two minimum wage. (

Poverty Thresholds: Original versions of the federal poverty measure. They are updated
each year by the Census Bureau. (2006 Federal Poverty Guidelines / Heath and Human

Commerce: means trade, commerce, transportation, transmission, or communication
among the several States or between and State and place outside thereof (FLSA p1)

Employer: includes any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer
in relation to an employee and includes a public agency, but does not include any labor
organizations (other than when acting as an employer) ir anyone acting in the capacity of
officer or agent of such labor organizations. (FLSA p1)

                             Central Claims with Support

Claim 1: Minimum wage establishes fair guidelines for pay

       1a. “Every employer shall pay to each of his employees who in any workweek is
       engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, or is employed
       in an enterprise engaged in commerce on in the production of good for commerce,
       wages at the following rate: (1) except as otherwise provided in this section, not
       less than $4.25 an hour during the period ending on September 20, 1996, not less
       than $4.75 an hour during the year beginning on October 1, 1996, and not less
       than $5.15 an hour beginning September 1, 1997.” (FLSA, p10)

       1b. The minimum wage law (the FLSA) applies to employees of enterprises that
       do at least $500,000 in business a year. It also applies to employees of smaller
       firms if the employees are engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of
       goods for commerce, such as employees who work in transportation or
       communications or who regularly use the mails or telephones for interstate
       communications. It also applies to employees of federal, state or local government
       agencies, hospitals and schools, and it generally applies to domestic workers.

       US Department of Labor. Questions and Answers about the Minimum Wage.
      1c. The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor is responsible
      for enforcing the minimum wage. Using both enforcement and public education
      efforts, Wage and Hour strives to ensure that workers are paid the minimum

      US Department of Labor. Questions and Answers about the Minimum Wage.

Claim 2: Minimum Wage is not required and is failing in some circumstances.

      2a. Minimum wage is not required by all states. Some states do not have a
      minimum wage and some states have a higher minimum wage than $5.15.

      2b. Section 14(c) of the FLSA authorizes employers, after receiving a certificate
      from the Wage and Hour Division, to pay special minimum wages - wages less
      than the Federal minimum wage - to workers who have disabilities for the work
      being performed. The certificate also allows the payment of wages that are less
      than the prevailing wage to workers who have disabilities for the work being
      performed on contracts subject to the McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act
      (SCA) and the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA). (US Department of

      2c. Various minimum wage exceptions apply under specific circumstances to
      workers with disabilities, full-time students, youth under age 20 in their first 90
      consecutive calendar days of employment, tipped employees and student-learners.
      US Department of Labor. Questions and Answers about the Minimum Wage.

       2d. "The federal government is not living up to its responsibility, so the states are
      acting," says New Jersey state Sen. Steve Sweeney, a Democrat who sponsored a
      law that will raise the state's minimum. (Cauchon, Dennis)

Claim 3: Working for minimum wage puts people under the poverty line.

        3a. In the year 2006 the poverty line for one person is at an income of
        $9,800.00 and each additional person living off the income is $3,400 each.
        This means a 4 person family must make over $20,000 per year to be above
        the poverty line. (Prior HHS Poverty Guidelines and Federal Register

        3b. A person working 40 hours a week(full time) at min. wage would only make
        $9,888.00 a year. Meaning a couple working full time would only make
        $19776.00. (Prior HHS Poverty Guidelines and Federal Register References)
        3c. Minimum wage has not increased since 1997 while inflation has.

        3d. Working a full work week for minimum wage while supporting a family
        keeps you under the poverty line.

        3e. Almost half of low-wage workers are married or have kids.

        3f. While living on minimum wage it is hard for families to afford basic

Claim 4: Minimum wage was not necessarily meant to support entire families

      4a. Minimum wage was originally set up so that everyone would receive a fair
      wage not necessarily so they can make a living off of it.

      4b. Minimum wage is supposed to be used as starting point for people to
      eventually move on to better higher paying jobs.

      4c.Minimum wage is not just meant for someone supporting a family but also
      someone just trying to make money for school or to work part-time.

      4d. A minimum wage is not just about helping the impoverished.
      4e. No employer should be able to profit by giving unfair wages to those who
      have no negotiating power.

Claim 5: Lower class employees who work for minimum wage will be negatively
affected when the wage is increased federally.

      5a. If the minimum wage is increased the workers will go through cuts. To make
      up for the difference in pay the unskilled workers would be laid off. As economist
      Susan S. Lang, a professor at Cornell University points out, “83 percent of
      minimum-wage benefits go to teenagers and other workers living in families
      above the poverty line.” This isn’t helping the lower class worker who only makes
      up for 17% of the benefits of that working environment. The majority of this
      working class can afford to loose the low paying job while the minority of this
      cannot. (Lang, Susan S)

      5b. The employees are liable to loose between 400,000 to 1,000,000 jobs with the
      increase of only $1.00 to the minimum wage according to Susan S. Lang and well
      respected economist Reed Garfield whom is the senior economist of the Joint
      Economic Committee. This leads to unemployment and a higher ratio of welfare
      to person. (Garfield, Reed.)
      5c. Increasing the minimum wage increases the number of high school dropouts
      according to Vice President Jim Saxton of the Joint Economic Committee. This
      leads to the market of jobs becoming stiffer. Since the applicants are now
      competing against a large market of workers the workers whom once had
      minimum wage jobs and are on welfare because of the job cuts find it difficult to
      get off welfare and get back into the working field. (Garfield, Reed)

      5d. The increase of the minimum wage would not only increase wages among the
      lower class but also among some of the higher paid workers of labor unions
      according to Mr. Coad a labor union representative of P&G. “Once the minimum
      wage is increased the labor union has to revise their workers and their worth.”
      This is a process that not only affects P&G union workers but all union workers
      across America. This leads to inflation of the dollar. This inflation makes the life
      of a economically struggling worker even tougher to reform to the new norms of
      prices that were so different before the inflation. Since the union worker always
      makes a percentage more give or take than the minimum wage worker there
      income would increase. With the increase of a union’s wages it has little to no
      negative affect on the union worker. The point of a union is to hold a position
      without being fired for what a minimum wage worker might find them self out of
      a job for the same act. The struggling employee of a minimum wage job might
      find them self out of a job while the stable union worker would keep her job and
      have a higher pay in the end of the month. Where’s the justice in rising the
      minimum wage? (Interviewee: Mr. Coad)

      5e. Federally raising the minimum wage takes jobs away from the working poor.
      This can be resolved not by hiking the minimum wage but by changing laws
      around tax reforms. Tax the poor less in return not helping the employers to cut
      down on unskilled workers. The minimum wage should also be determined by
      state. If one state finds that a certain wage is performing better higher or lower go
      for it, but overall there should not be a set minimum wage. States are allowed to
      pick the speed limits even though all cars run the same, why shouldn’t this be the
      same for each state with minimum wage. If the minimum wage is increased
      federally then every union across the U.S. is going to increase their wages,
      leading to inflation, leading back to poverty and harder living conditions among
      the people that the minimum wage was drawn to help.

Claim 6: Raising the minimum wage would help the many employees who are trying
to live off minimum wage.

      6a. Most Americans who rely on just a full-time job earning the federal minimum
      wage cannot afford the rent and utilities on a one- or two-bedroom apartment, an
      advocacy group on low-income housing reported Monday. (Armas, Genaro C)

      6b. In only four of the nation's 3,066 counties could a full-time worker making the
      federal minimum wage afford a typical one-bedroom apartment, the coalition
       said. Three were in Illinois: Clay, Crawford and Wayne counties; the other was
       Washington County, Fla. (Armas, Genaro C)

                                 Values/ Assumptions

Minimum wage is meant to be a good thing.

Poverty is an awful thing.

The Fair Labor Standards Act helps with many different labor laws.

Some people can not get jobs other than ones that pay minimum wage.

Humans have the responsibility to help fight poverty.

Armas, Genaro C. (2004, December 20). Minimum Wage Barely Pays Rent. CBS

Associated Press. (2006, February 14). Maine Retrieved March 2,2006 form

Cauchon, Dennis. (2005, May 31). States Say $5.15 an hour is too little. USA TODAY. -wage_x.htm

Chapman, Jeff. (2003). States Move on Minimum Wage [Electronic Version] Economic
     Policy Institute. March 20, 2006.

Farnsworth, Elizabeth 1996, Small Exceptions [on-line] Mar. 2006

Garfield, Reed. (1995 April, 5). Joint Economic Committee
       Retrieved on March 2, 2006 from

Interviewee: Mr. Coad, Interviewer: Rob O’Connor, March 20, 2006

Lang, Susan S. "Income Tax Credits, Not Minimum Wage Hike, Will Benefit the
       Working Poor." Ezra. Na Na. Cornell University. 21 Mar. 2006

Minimum Wage [on-line]
      1 Mar. 2006

Page, Marianne. (2006, March 2) information is provided to you by IDEAS at the
       Department of Economics, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of
       Connecticut using RePEc data Retrieved on (March 3, 2006)

"Prior HHS Poverty Guidelines and Federal Register References." United States Dept. of
         Health and Human Services. 2006. 28 Feb. 2006

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2005, April 5). Characteristics of Minimum Wage
       Workers: 2004. U.S. Department of Labor.

United States Department of Health and Human Services. (2006, January 24). The 2006
       HHS Poverty Guidelines.
       U.S Department of Labor. Questions and Answers About the Minimum Wage.

Wilson, Mark. (2001, June 28). Heritage Foundation, The. Retrieved on March 1, from

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