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Guest Column: The minimum wage is inequitable 

By Hazel Krilivsky-Gade, Grade 8

The current minimum wage is not sustainable nor feasible. The concept of a minimum wage was first introduced in the U.S. in 1938 when President Roosevelt passed the legislation. 

“It was designed to ensure that anyone working full time could not only live, but also support a family on a modest but secure income,” says Kimberly Amadeo, president of World Money Watch. But this design has become grossly inadequate. 

The minimum wage was created to ensure economic security for families. It is our job to be sure we keep ensuring that, despite our current compounding issue of inflation. There are so many people struggling in Vermont (and around the world) with the issue of minimum wage. Vermont’s minimum wage is $12.55 per hour. In other words, an employee working a full-time job (40 hours per week) would make $502.00 every week, before taxes. An average family of four spends $256.70 on groceries alone in one week. That’s over half of a week’s minimum wages, leaving little left over to pay for shelter and other necessities. The minimum wage is not a liveable wage.

One may posit how to resolve this problem, for there are many pros and cons regarding raising the minimum wage. For example, if you are an employer, in order to pay your workers more, you need more money — therefore causing prices to rise in stores (inflation) which could result in companies being less competitive and job losses. However, the benefits for raising the minimum wage clearly outweigh not raising the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage would bring many families and community members out of poverty. Over time, the economy would become more balanced. 

The minimum wage is not equitable. One of the United Nations’ sustainability goals is no poverty. Living without poverty is a human right. 

My focus for my 8th grade challenge is bringing awareness and advocacy to the need for a livable wage for all. Every person deserves to be getting paid enough to support their family, loved ones and themselves.