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October 5, 2013 at 7:02 AM
Minimum-wage workers aren’t waiting for a raise
Mark Weisbrot seriously misleads readers by claiming that the minimum wage has lost ground to inflation since 1968. [“Should fast-food chains pay a living wage”? Opinion, Sept. 21.] The minimum wage is actually worth 6 percent more than it was 20 years ago.
And if you pegged the minimum wage to inflation from its creation in 1938, rather than cherry-picking a date that provides a better talking point, it would be just over $4 an hour — far below the current $7.25.
Weisbrot should also consider that minimum-wage workers aren’t waiting for a raise. Research shows that two-thirds of minimum-wage employees receive raises within their first one to 12 months on the job. But they can’t get that raise if they don’t have a job in the first place — an important fact to remember, given that 85 percent of most credible economic studies from the past two decades show that such hikes eliminate jobs for entry-level workers.
Michael Saltsman, research director. Employment Policies Institute. Washington D.C.
August 28, 2013 at 11:27 AM
Perspective over time
I would like to provide some perspective in the discussion regarding the minimum-wage issue. [“SeaTac’s $15 wage initiative draws big money, attention,” NW Friday, Aug. 23.]
In 1966, I was released from military service and started my career as an architect in training, in Norfolk, Va. I was paid $3 per hour. I had a wife, two kids, two cars, life insurance, money in the bank and vacation time. At that time, the federal minimum wage was $1.25 per hour.
As we all know, the cost of living has increased nearly tenfold in the intervening 47 years. However, if we take ten times as a mean increase, that would put the $3 salary at $30 per hour, and the corresponding minimum wage at $12.50.
The current professional salary is close to this increase; the minimum wage is not. The $15 hourly wage being requested is reasonable.
Employers say this will ruin their business. That is highly unlikely, since employees would then have the money to purchase their employers’ products.
John Wade, Bainbridge Island
July 29, 2013 at 7:12 PM
Wage gap grows
Froma Harrop addressed the abuse of minimum-wage labor in this country and the use of the immigration bill in Congress to aid in its continuation. [“Column: A steady supply of cheap labor is nobody’s right,” Opinion, July 27.]
However, the problem extends well beyond the minimum-wage group. Boeing and Microsoft are leaders in trying to expand the visa program so they can import lower-wage skilled workers (computer folks) from foreign nations.
Congress recently increased the pilot-retirement age by five years, claiming there was about to be a shortage of pilots, while there were many pilots in layoff status.
I know of two youngsters who borrowed more than $100,000 to complete college-aviation programs, only to discover they could not pay off the loans if they were to enter the industry with our regional airlines paying less than $25,000 salaries.
Congress continues to pass laws that have the wages of most people falling behind inflation, while the top few percent continue with large salary increases. The wage gap continues to expand to the detriment of our country as the majority allows sideline issues to dominate.
Dan Shields, Auburn
June 25, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Price inflation and taxation are treated differently
I recently read that Starbucks was going to raise the price of a latte, even though the price of coffee beans had not increased. [“Starbucks raises drink prices even as beans cost less,” Business, June 22.]
There are many people who need to have their daily latte and will not have second thoughts about the price increase.
Now, to pay for schools and infrastructure, the local government is considering raising taxes. There is gnashing of teeth and the rending of garments. Taxes!
For a long time, the prices for staple items have been increasing and very little is said. So why are taxes frowned upon?
Leo Shillong, Bellingham
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