I started out working at a minimum wage job, never even thinking if it was a living wage or not. It was a high school job that I was trying to make enough money at to support owning my own car and having my own spending money.
After high school my wages went way down as a member of the United States Marine Corps. It was long, long hours with never the hope of any overtime pay. After that it was another minimum wage job while going to college.
So, I know what life is like on minimum wage, and it isn't a good life. Because of my experience working minimum wage jobs, I have always been in favor of raising the rate higher. Now there is a nation-wide push for $15.00 an hour as the minimum wage, and I thought that was great, but now I am rethinking that.
Last week I had an appointment at Shands Hospital in Gainscville, Florida. The last thing I had to do was get some blood drawn. When I went to the lab to get stuck, I had to self-check in at a kiosk. There was man there instructing me how to do it. I asked him if when he had taught enough people would he lose his job. He said he wouldn't lose his job, because he was really in the billing department. That conversation got the two of us talking about Kiosks at fast food places, and he said even with a college degree he wasn't making $15 an hour, but close enough that a $15 dollar an hour job at McDonalds would not tempt him.
However, he went on to say that he knew plenty of people who would for sure drop their ten, eleven, or twelve dollar an hour job to flip burgers at fifteen and hour. And we both talked about all the older workers who are trying to get by on a Social Security check that never seems to cover expenses. A part time job at $15 an hour would put many of those workers back in the work force. I wonder if all those people in the fast food industry have thought about that.
Yes, I believe McDonalds can and will pay their workers $15 an hour even if burgers have to go up in price a bit, but also It will be mighty tempting for a fast food manager to dump the workers he has now for people who have an education, who can speak well, and can even count change and are willing and able to work hard. Many will even have a good resume and letters of reference. .
Many older Americans will not go back to work for eight dollars and hour, but fifteen will look pretty darn good for maybe a twenty hour week.
So, I believe minimum wages are going to go up, and I bet they will go to $15 an hour or even higher in some places. However, I do not believe the people working some of those jobs now will be working them in the future, and the poor people working them now will be back where they started and their dreams of a better life will be just that.
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