Put more money on the table

DeRon Talley

It’s no secret that President Barack Obama is looking to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10. Frankly, he believes it’s time to “give America a raise.” I agree.

Obama said a higher minimum wage would lift millions out of poverty and stimulate the broader economy.

Raising the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 is both a legislative priority for the president, and it’s becoming a priority for Louisiana Representative Herbert Dixon (D).

In a phone conference, Dixon said he’s going to push the legislation to look at raising the minimum here in Louisiana but he has a strategy to keep from jumping right up to $10.10, but rather do it in increments.

“I have a practical and reasonable bill that would move the minimum wage up from $7.25 to $9 over time,” Dixon said.

Dixon said increasing in portions would give the state a chance to look at how businesses have shaped with the increase in pay.

Dixon also believes the minimum wage shouldn’t be confused with pay only for the working teen. “It would benefit families not necessarily the working teen,” he said.

In 2011, it was found across the country that 3.8 million American workers – most of whom were out of their teens – earned the federal minimum wage o $7.25 per hour according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In a recent report released by the Center for American Progress, studies found boosting the wages of low-wage workers through raising the minimum wage will lower government expenditures on nutrition assistance and reduce participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

According to the findings in the report, a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage would reduce SNAP enrollments by between 2.4 percent and 3.2 percent and reduce program expenditures by an estimated 1.9 percent. Taking into account each state’s 2014 minimum-wage level, the results are then applied to the current legislative proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The results imply that a raise in the minimum wage would reduce SNAP enrollments by 3.3 million to 3.8 million people. The total annual decrease in program expenditures is nearly $4.6 billion, or about 6 percent of current SNAP program expenditures. The report also includes a state-by-state breakdown of savings and enrollment reductions.

That’s a big deal in Louisiana where over 66,000 Louisianans will no longer need SNAP as a result of raising the minimum wage.

Some disagree with a higher minimum wage and claim it would be too heavy a burden on employers, especially small business owners. And those employers, in turn, would be unable to hire as many people -- an undesirable result when unemployment continues to hover at about eight percent.

It makes sense but the cost of living is going up right now whether the wage is increased or not. Employers are reducing staff numbers even now.  Raising the wage would pay more money, but it would also allow more money to cycle through the economy – more spending money.

Raising the minimum wage level may not be the best answer, but it is an answer that can solve at least 66,000 Louisianans’ problems. Every decision comes with pros and cons. We just have to research and choose wisely on what’s close to the best thing we can do.