Jobs at a Living Wage

There must be a decent-paying job with benefits, at equal pay for equal work, in a safe and healthy workplace for everyone who is willing and able to work. If the private sector does not provide enough of these jobs, then it is the duty of government to create them.

From Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice

But won’t raising the minimum wage kill jobs? Students in Econ 101 courses all over the country have been hearing this argument for decades. It goes like this: As the minimum wage increases, employers will find it more profitable to replace workers with machines – e.g., lay off a dishwasher at a restaurant and bring in a new dishwashing machine.

But studies have shown that raising the minimum wage has little or no impact on jobs. In some cases, raising the wage may actually increase worker commitment to their job, leading to less turnover and absenteeism and higher productivity, increasing the employer’s profits. The minimum wage isn’t just an economic question. It’s a moral one.

The minimum wage sets a minimum standard of decency for work in our society. A higher minimum wage says that we believe all workers should be able to support themselves and their families with dignity, even in the lowest-paid job categories. As a society we have to replace jobs that pay poverty wages with better-paying jobs that enhance workers’ dignity. No full-time worker should ever have to rely on food stamps.

Leopold, Les. Runaway Inequality: An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice (pp. 276-277). Labor Institute Press. Kindle Edition.