Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Minimum wage is overrated

Sofia Meija

America is a very career-driven nation that has built up its society by correlating people’s self-worth with their career success. This unhealthy perception of workism has been developed within working individuals which indicates that their careers are the main focus of their identities and life purposes. But with how the American system for distributing income operates, one should consider if the wages being provided are appropriate for the work they contribute. 

Currently, we have a federally mandated minimum wage starting at a whopping $7.25, according to the data website Statista. Although the minimum wage value varies between states, a handful still apply the federally appointed minimum salary in the workplace, such as  Texas. States like Georgia and Wyoming have their minimum wage lower than the fixed salary at a low rate of $5.15

However, due to the high inflation that has significantly impacted the US economy, many states have taken notice of the rise in the cost of living. Approximately 20 states in the U.S. have raised their minimum wage around the beginning of this year, with Washington and California having the highest minimum wage starting at $15.74/$15.50 per hour.

Although it is amazing that changes are being made to the income rates that the working class is earning, it is upsetting to see that these developments are barely underway. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the federally mandated minimum wage has been in place since 2009, taking over 13 years for any changes to be made. 

Inflation is a widespread occurrence that affects the U.S. economy, raising prices nationwide. By using the inflation calculator website Other Goods, there was an average inflation rate of 2.15% per year, leaving a high inflation rate of 5.21% in 2023. The percentage increase signifies a rise in value, meaning that $1 in 2009 is now valued at $1.35 in 2023 for any equivalent purchases. 

How is it possible that the cost of living has risen gradually throughout the years but not the income that hard-working people earn?

 Most minimum wage paying jobs are subjectively found in food preparation, serving occupations and retail careers — traditionally considered “starter jobs.” This means that most individuals who work in these types of professions are typically teenagers or young adults. Using college students as a prime example, having a starter job when you are just beginning your education journey at a higher educational institute will not financially support you. 

According to the Education Data initiative, college tuition can range from $26,000 to $27,000 per year, depending on housing, institute and other factors. This does not include additional costs, such as rent, textbooks, food, bills and other essential components that require payment. Students who work a minimum wage job and have to financially support themselves will find it extremely difficult to live off such small wages. Statista even states that the approximate hourly wage necessary to afford a two-bedroom apartment starts at $22.54 in Texas. 

How are students expected to go to school full-time, work and be able to afford a stress-free standard of living when occupations nowadays pay less than a living wage?

Fortunately, with states raising their starting salary and introducing the 2023 Raise the Wage Act, which will gradually raise the minimum wage to $17 an hour by 2028, we can finally see some improvement within the American workforce. Trying to live a stress-free and overall content life is what we all should aim for without the worry of financial problems or issues that can be solved with proper wages being implemented.

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About the Contributors
Naydine De La Fuente
Naydine De La Fuente, Copyediting Coordinator
Naydine De La Fuente (she/her) is an English major with a double concentration in professional and creative writing with a minor in communication. She joined The Paisano during the spring 2023 term in order to indulge in her passion for writing. In the future, she plans to pursue a career in journalism or publishing in hopes to utilize her writing skills. Outside of the organization, she enjoys reading, journaling and spending time with friends, family and her dog.
Sofia Meija
Sofia Meija, Graphic Artist
Sofia (she/her) is a 3rd year Marketing major with a minor in Film Studies. She is passionate about creating creative SFX makeup, film and fashion. Her hobbies include painting, playing with her dogs, baking, cosplaying and arts & crafts. Outside of school, she works at Thirteen Floors as a makeup artist. She joined the Paisano in Spring 2023.

Comments (1)

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    MarySep 28, 2023 at 11:42 am

    I want the people that decide what the minimum wage is is to work for minimum wage too.