By Teresa Acosta
The minimum wage increase of $1.04 is not substantial enough for college students.
While it may be the correct move to increase minimum wage, the amount of the increase cannot compete with the current pace of inflation. The current inflation rate is 7.5%, and it continues to rise.
The increase of minimum wage from $15 to $16.04, is set to take place on July 1, 2022. The Inspector of Public Works and Director of the Bureau of Contract Administration John L. Reamer Jr. said the pay adjustments aim to keep pace with inflationary increases.
$1.04 may temporarily decrease the gap between the current wage and inflation. However, inflation is an ever-increasing variable and minimum wage only increases periodically.
By the end of the year, inflation will outpace the minimum wage increase.
When minimum wage is increased, it can put a strain and financial burden on small businesses who may be working with a smaller profit margin.
Businesses of all sizes may choose to pass the cost increase on to the consumer by raising prices. This price increase can make certain basic needs less affordable.
According to Dr. M. Allen Coson, the Vice Chair and Professor of Economics here at East Los Angeles College, the increase is not enough for the current financial climate.
Especially taking into account that supply issues have not returned to their pre-pandemic functioning.
“One option is to peg the minimum wage to the cost of living adjustments (COLA), but that too can put more pressure on employers, i.e. small businesses to pass the costs to consumers. However, this would ensure that college students can actually have a livable wage and be able to have a decent life,” Coson said.
There are a multitude of programs available through ELAC to help students with basic needs. Bus passes, free groceries, certain medical care needs and laptop and hotspot loans are some of the assistances available.
There is more to life than basic needs. The goal isn’t to sustain a basic needs life, it’s to live a full and enriched one.
College can be a stepping stone for those wanting to move beyond the poverty line and not live pay-check to pay-check, but you have to get through it first.
Worrying about making enough money to support yourself through college is mentally straining.
Having minimum wage aligned with cost of living or inflation is an important issue for students facing financial challenges.
It can be the difference between being able to finish college and having to quit to be able to work more to support themselves.
If a student can finish college and earn a degree, they will be much more likely to find work that isn’t based on minimum wage.
Without a college degree, the road to a higher paying job could be longer and more difficult to achieve thus reducing their lifetime-earning potential.
Raise the minimum wage and raise the possibility of increasing a student’s quality of life for the rest of their life.