Give Michigan more than the bare minimum

By Postie Editors

The U.S. minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour.

A worker who clocks 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year will make about $15,080 — and that’s before taxes.

To live comfortably, the average person needs $20,194 between food, shelter and other basic life necessities, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

It just doesn’t add up.

Representative George Miller (D-Calif.) proposed the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would have raised the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. House Republicans unanimously voted the proposal down. Six Democrats voted against it, while 184 voted for it.

Something needs to be done.

For the record, $10.10 an hour would net the worker $21,008 — just barely enough to meet the current cost of living.

In February’s State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama proposed raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour — still under the cost of living, but an improvement nonetheless.

While Miller’s plan overshot this number, other proposals have been put in place to raise the minimum wage.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said the minimum wage has lost 31 percent of its purchasing power since 1968, and pays 20 percent less than the poverty level.

Tipped employees have it worse, as their compensation of $2.13 an hour has not increased in over 20 years.

New York decided not to wait for the federal government to step in. An agreement is in place that could potentially raise minimum wage to $9 an hour by the start of 2016.

New Jersey may not be far behind, according to radio station New Jersey 101.5. If passed, New Jersey might raise its minimum wage to $8.25 an hour, plus make annual increases based on inflation rates.

We urge Michigan to join the states raising their own minimum wage rather than waiting for the federal government to step in.

The National Low-Income Housing Association found that to afford the average two-bedroom apartment of “fair market value,” the renter would need to make $30,713 a year, or about $14.77 an hour full-time, according to Michigan Radio.

This is nearly double our current minimum wage. It would take two people both working full-time to sustain an apartment.

While Michigan’s current minimum wage is $7.40 an hour, 15 cents over the current federal minimum wage, this is not nearly enough to live on.

College students also have to worry about student loans.

The average Oakland University grad, with no scholarships, will be over $40,000 in debt when they graduate.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average starting salaries for graduating seniors has risen 3.4 percent over the past year to $44,455.

At that rate, with the addition of the cost of living, it’s going to take years to pay off student loans.

If you didn’t go to college, well, good luck surviving in today’s market.


The staff editorial is written weekly by members of The Oakland Post’s editorial board.