It’s not minimum wage or EITC – we need to do both

On Christmas morning, most of you looked under the tree with your brothers, sisters and other family members to find gifts waiting for you. During the holidays, we should be reminded of those who are less fortunate, and who cannot afford these luxuries. Think about the employees at the local Walmart where your parents bought you the gift, the fast food employees who have begun protesting the minimum wage nationwide, and the cashier who rang up the wonderful groceries you enjoyed over the recent holiday. These minimum wage workers are supporting families and are under the poverty line. Minimum wage workers are the most disadvantaged among us. While the minimum wage was initially meant for younger adults to gain work experience, more and more adults are finding themselves with minimum wage jobs due to the economic situation. For these hardworking low- and middle-class citizens, it is getting harder and harder every year just to get by. We have a responsibility as a society to reverse this, because people with full-time jobs should not have to live in poverty. Unfortunately this is becoming the case more commonly than you might think.
There are two ways to approach helping the low-income workers: increasing the minimum wage, and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). I agree with most economists who believe that combining both together effectively is the best way to tackle this issue. Unfortunately with the current political situation this is an impossibility. Nevertheless, Americans are beginning to realize the magnitude of the issue, and the minimum wage is becoming a hot topic once again. Back in the November General Elections, New Jersey voters approved a constitutional amendment raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour, with annual increases based on inflation. Currently 20 states and Washington DC have minimum wages higher than the federal rate.
As stated before, the minimum wage must be increased since many minimum wage workers are below the poverty line. The minimum wage should also see annual increases because otherwise workers effectively make less and less. Perhaps this increase shouldn’t be at the same rate as inflation though. The minimum wage would be at nearly $25 per hour if it were kept up to inflation since the 1960s! That’s too high. Critics claim raising the minimum wage either kills jobs or raises prices. However, trends show that states with higher minimum wages have lower unemployment rates. In fact, San Francisco, with the nation’s highest minimum wage of $10.55 per hour, has an unemployment rate of just 5.5%, compared to the nation’s unemployment rate of 7.3%. This also shows that consumers are willing to pay a little extra.
Additionally, the EITC program must be expanded. Essentially, the EITC is a tax credit, or government payout, for low-income workers so that they are ultimately paying less in income taxes and social security. Working-class Americans should not be left with the tax burden. This is something that most conservatives support as well. In my view, any way to give a helping hand to working and middle class Americans is good for me, because they’ve certainly been having it especially tough over the last decade. Even though the EITC does much to address poverty, there is still a lot to be done. The EITC should include those who are pursuing an education to get better-paying jobs. It should also be made easier for families to figure out how to spread the payout throughout the year without needing to hire an accountant. Expanding the EITC in this fashion will be an effective tool in reversing economic hardships in America.
By increasing the minimum wage, and expanding EITC, everyone including the government, employers, and the consumer is contributing a little to help those that need it most.