Reasons for Minimum Wage Worker’s Tough Lives
In 1938, federal minimum wage legislation became effective for the first time
when the Fair Labor Standards Act passed (Sidey 573). After sixty-seven years, today,
the minimum wage, which was originally set to make sure that working people could
support themselves and their family, increased twenty times (Sidey 573). Nevertheless, the low-wage workers have never gotten rid of the hardship in their lives. Two main reasons cause the current situation. The increasing renting prices and the increasing rate of health care, which exceeds low-wage workers’ real income by quite a lot, make their lives tough all the time.
Minimum wage, the smallest amount of money per hour that an employer may
legally pay a worker, became a part of state law in Massachusetts in 1912 (Sidey 573).
After 14 other states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico set similar laws in
America, the first federal minimum wage legislation became valid. The Fair Labor
Standards Act of 1938 “firmly established the federal government as a regulator of
wages in the United States by establishing a minimum hourly wage for all employees
engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of goods for interstate
commerce” (Huckshorn 167). Based on 2004’s Current Population Survey of America,
today two million workers earn at or below minimum wage out of 73.9 million
American workers who are paid at hourly rates (Characteristics). In 1996, the
minimum wage raised to $5.15 per hour. Some people argue that this federal
legislation helped low-wage workers a lot. Nevertheless, low-wage people are still
suffering from hardship because of the big gap between their incomes and
expenditures. In 1998, the minimum-wage was “$2,500 below the poverty line for a
three-person family” if a worker works 40 hours a week without vacations (Rothman).
The minimum wage should be $6.24 to maintain the same average purchasing power
in 1998 as “it averaged in the 1970s” (Rothman). Up until 2005, in California, nearly
16 percent of Californian low-paid workers live below the poverty line according to a
study of State Industrial Welfare Commission of California (Garcoa). These figures
and examples denied the argument that this federal legislation helped low-wage
workers’ lives. Two main reasons cause the big gap between minimum-workers’ real
income and basic living requirements, the persistent increasing of the rental price and health premiums.
The first reason for hardship concerns the high rental prices in America