Yesterday across the country, fast food workers held strikes to raise awareness of their plight for higher wages. Earlier this year, President Obama indicated that he will push for an increase of the federal minimum wage, which has been $7.25 an hour since July 2009. Activists who work in fast food were pushing for an hourly wage of $15 an hour, which would equal about $30,000 per year. It is highly unlikely that the wages of fast food workers would be bumped up to $15 an hour; the thought is that by asking for that much, fast food companies would meet workers somewhere in the middle.
African Americans and Latino workers are overrepresented in the cohort of minimum wage earners in the U.S. A report released this week by the Economic Policy Institute shows that blacks and Latinos would be positively impacted by an increase to the minimum wage (all racial and ethnic groups would benefit):
“Combining the direct and indirect impacts, 14.1 percent of all workers affected by an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 would be black. This share is greater than the proportion of blacks in the overall workforce, which is 12 percent. Similarly, Latinos would constitute 24.6 percent of all affected workers, which is larger than their 16 percent share of the overall workforce. It is important to note that all racial and ethnic groups would benefit from the minimum-wage increase. For instance, white workers would make up 54.1 percent of all workers who would receive higher wages.”
Opponents of increasing the minimum wage argue that raising wages will restrict job growth because businesses will have to pay more for labor.