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Minimum Wage

As of 2014, the current general minimum wage in New York State is $8.75. While it has risen steadily over the years, many still think it is not enough. They believe that paying a teen in high school $8.75 an hour to work in a grocery store, or a fast food restaurant, is not fair. But the big question is: Would raising the minimum wage help or hurt teens?

Ages 16-19 are considered the “ money hungry” ages. This means they’ll take any job they can get, from McDonald’s to Wal-Mart. Teens feel like they need money for things such as a car, college, or even their own apartment. Although many teens would be happy if the minimum wage was raised to $10.10, they often do not consider the down side of a raise.

According to Dr. David Newark, an increase in minimum wage would result in an increase in teens leaving school at an earlier age. If teens feel that they can make $10.10 an hour without a high school education, they might feel that there’s no need to finish school. As a result, the lack of education would cause a loss of long-term earnings in late adulthood.

If you finish high school and get a diploma– or even better: continue on to a college education– you will receive significantly higher wages in the long run. The average college-educated job can pay anywhere from $40,000-100,000 a year. To put this into perspective, I work at McDonald’s for $8.75 an hour. However, I plan to get a degree in psychology, with which I can get a job that pays anywhere from $60,000 to $110,000 a year.

Raising minimum wage would also raise the unemployment number. It would make employers hire more skilled workers, which would put young, unskilled teens at a disadvantage. My first job was at a bagel shop, but if the minimum wage had been higher, they would never have hired me due to lack of experience. The other employees had been there for years, but because the minimum wage was so low, they gave me an opportunity to work there as well.

As of 2012, an average of 1.6 million Americans got paid minimum wage. A little more then half are teens of the ages between 16-19, competing against older, highly educated individuals. People often get the idea that if you go to college you are guaranteed a well-paying job, but that is not always the case. Sometimes there are not high-paying jobs available, and, therefore, a well educated individual might have to work at a minimum wage job just to make ends meet. So, is it fair to them to get paid only $8.75 an hour?

What really benefits teens? Should they be content with their $8.75, or argue to raise it to $10.10? After thoroughly researching the topic, my conclusion is that it honestly does not matter, because changes companies will have to make will just even it all out. If minimum wage gets raised, yes, workers will get paid more, but they also might get fewer hours. All companies, in the long run, want to save money. If they HAVE to pay a worker more to do a certain job, they are going to want to give the worker less hours, so that the company will not lose money overall. However, if it stays at $8.75, workers are more likely to receive a greater amount of hours.

The biggest thing for teenagers to keep in mind is that a minimum wage job should not be your whole future, nor your whole focus. Sure, it will help pay for school, car insurance, and other teen stressors, but this should not be the main focus of your life. Put school first, and, in about 6 years from now, minimum wage won’t matter.