Just Sayin’… Raising the minimum wage?

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What scares me is that if fast food employees, waiters, dishwashers and others who decided to drop out of school can make $10 an hour, why should young people do well in school? Why should they go to college? Or trade school?

This averages out to be around $19,000 to $20,000 a year, which many college grads would be glad to start out with. Remember, if it were minimum wage, it would be the wage that everyone starts out with.

Having been a person who has worked for a small business and owned a small business, this would be disastrous for most, considering that the biggest expense for businesses is paying employees, with the next being equipment.

Any business that is making a profit after expenses should transfer those profits to their employees and equipment. I understand that is rarely done, but the solution is not run companies out of business with excessive wages. There has to be some kind of middle ground, because even if big fast food chains and department stores raised their wages all they would do is transfer those lost profits to the customers which goes right back on the employees. What I fear is most of the mom and pop restaurants and retail stores would have to close because they could never afford to pay their employees that kind of money.

Yes something has to be done to stop the trend of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. I believe that making sure better quality jobs are available to all is the best way to accomplish this. All businesses should be required to have a diversity plan in which they hire people of all races and sexes so that people working in fast food, waiters, or retail store clerks can either look forward to moving into management with their company or that doors are open to them at other businesses; provided they have the training, and the willingness to work, or learn the job.

I’ve worked fast food and in department stores and I know people who have and are working there now. But these jobs are not careers. They are jobs, something you do until you can find a better job.

Bottom line: if everyone is guaranteed $10 an hour, or $20,000 starting pay, what motivation will they have to stay in school? The drop out rate is already entirely too high.

Speaking of jobs, the latest jobs report for the Pittsburgh area says that we are better off than most of the cities our size and the country as a whole. Our employment rate has dropped below 7 percent, and even though employment is not where we would like it to be businesses are hiring, and because the cost of living is generally cheaper here.  Many people, even executives, prefer to live in this area.

According to some, low cost housing, low crime rates, the Pittsburgh Promise and improving communities are causing people to stay or move to Pittsburgh. Basically Pittsburgh has become more stable, with fewer people moving out than before. The main reason the Pittsburgh Public Schools has the problems they do with dropping student enrollment and the lack of quality education is people, especially young people, moving out of the city at an alarming rate. That apparently is no longer the case.

We have a new mayor, a new City Council president, some new faces on City Council, several new faces on the school board as well as a new school board president. The next few years should be very interesting. The bottom line, however, is that we must make sure that Blacks benefit from the growth of the city, and that if the minimum wage is raised to $10 that we benefit from it–because somehow we are always the people who get left out when changes occur.

(Ulish Carter is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)

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