To the editor:
Why I oppose an increase in minimum wage:
In 2004 I started working at a job for $7.25 an hour. I was a year out of college with a bachelor’s degree from Idaho State University. With a minimum amount of work experience I was pleased with this wage. The minimum wage at the time was $5.15. Over the four and a half years I worked at that position, I received raises totaling somewhere around $1.00. In 2008 came the first of three minimum wage increases to be implemented. The first increase raised the minimum wage from $5.15 to $5.85. In 2009 came another increase to $6.55 and in 2010 we were increased to the current $7.25 minimum wage.
With the first increase in 2008 I was dismayed to see minimum wage creeping towards my starting wage and my current wage. By the end of the increases I would have been making less over minimum wage than where I had started in 2004. The increases in minimum wage were eliminating any headway I had made in moving away from minimum wage. My coworkers and I would not be receiving extra raises to keep us ahead of the game. We did ask.
Toward the end of 2008 I left my job to start our family, leaving my husband as the sole breadwinner in our family. My husband has received wonderful raises over the last five years that have helped support our growing family. Still, things are always tight in a single income household of five and growing.
There is currently a push for an Idaho minimum wage increase, comprising of three increases over three years ending at a minimum wage of $9.80 in 2017. Those increases would put my husband’s income $2.55 closer to minimum wage over the next four years. It would not be fair to expect my husband’s employer, a small business owner, to keep up with these increases, much less for us to expect raises above and beyond the potential state imposed increases.
Our economy seems to have become dependent on a two income household to be solvent. I know that mine is not the only family dependent on one income. There are so many single-parent households struggling to survive. It seems to me that for those single income families who have risen above minimum wage these minimum wage increases feel like an attack on the hard earned progress they have made.
As a side note: a year after I left the work force my position had been combined with three other positions and many other positions had been eliminated. This was due to the recession and I’m sure the inability to keep up with the coinciding minimum wage increases.