Full-time and in poverty?

To the editor:

Should someone working full-time still be in poverty?

Should someone putting in 40 hours a week, or serving in our armed forces, still need food stamps to support a child?

If you think the answer to those questions is “no,” then you think the minimum wage has fallen too far.

In today’s dollars, the minimum wage was once $16.80 an hour. Over the years it has not kept pace with inflation, making an honest day’s work pay less and less for those at the bottom of the work force. In Michigan, surveys of basic expenses figure $10.10 an hour would just barely be enough for a simple nuclear family with two kids and two working parents, if both parents were lucky enough to get 40 hours a week. That number only goes up over the years, which is why the minimum wage should be returned to something livable and then indexed to inflation.

Your editorial, “Now is not the time to raise the mininum wage,” fears the effects of a wage hike on small businesses, but the well-respected National Bureau of Economic Research tells us that that fear is groundless: papers at www.nber.org/papers/w4509 and www.nber.org/papers/w3710 tell us employment is largely unaffected, but workers are paid better.

This is good news: businesses need customers, and our economy needs activity. Money in the pocket of minimum wage workers goes right back in to the local economies where they live, improving the lives of the workers and their communities.

Most importantly, a fair day’s work ought to earn a fair day’s wage. That is the fundamental promise of the minimum wage, and it ought to be kept.

William J. Keith