Minimum Wage is not and never has been intended to be a “living wage”. Entry level positions that offer minimum wage are just that: entry into the job market or the profession. They are intended to last only as long as is needed to learn the field or the process. Then the worker is intended to move on—either ahead in the field or on to another one, depending on what was learned in the entry level position. In a way, they could be considered apprenticeships.
Workers in entry level positions have always shared living spaces and used inexpensive transportation. Owning a home or a car is not part of this stage in life; it’s something one builds up to over time. Entry level workers have always eaten the cheapest food, worn secondhand clothes, and found creative ways to enjoy their lives for the few years that they were in those positions. Whether they had lots of schooling or virtually none at all, they knew this was a temporary experience on their way to something greater, and they spent some hours dreaming and planning around the future they were creating. (Note, I said “creating”, not “expecting someone to hand them.”)
The fact that people have begun to act as if entry level positions are “careers” is one of the dangerous results of our media and failed educational system. Continue reading Why shouldn’t we raise the minimum wage?