Give us higher wages or give us a hand

By JAMIE VERWYS

I want more money. No, scratch that, I need more money.

With the high cost of living, poverty is a real and debilitating epidemic. According to a U.S. Census Bureau report in June, more than 2 million Arizonians live in a poverty area.

Poverty is largely affected by income, and although the state’s minimum pay is higher than the federal wage, it’s not enough.

In order to improve quality of life, the minimum wage needs to increase.

Since 2006, Arizona has followed a plan that increases the wage as cost of living rises. I hardly think the recent increase in wage from $7.80 to $7.90 is enough to alleviate workers from the stress of making ends meet.

The 10-cent raise only increases a full-time worker’s paycheck by about $4 a week. Many jobs available are only part time.

Those who oppose an increase in wages claim it would inflate prices, causing more harm to employees, consumers and business owners.

I assume businesses would face an increase in operating costs and retail markup would rise. But, let’s look at the way minimum wage employees spend their paychecks.

Most of us making the minimum, or even slightly above, live paycheck to paycheck.

We do not have income available to put large chucks of our money into savings or a 401(k). Our money goes directly back into the economy as we use it for immediate needs such as food.

If consumers continue to have low wages, they will spend less at businesses and therefore business will be negatively impacted anyway.

Higher minimum wages could increase employee productivity, reduce turnover rates and boost the economy.

Those struggling financially have been put into a lose-lose situation. On top of low wages, many assistance programs have been cut.

The state has made cuts to programs such as cash assistance, food stamps, Section 8 housing, education, federal grant money and child-support subsidies.

If these programs continue to receive the knife, people need to get paid more so they can obtain the most basic of human needs.

Verwys believes we all deserve to better ourselves and should have access to basic human necessities.

Pg06-Jamie Verwys

Filed Under: Opinion

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