The 14% Conundrum: Raising the Minimum Wage

During his State of the Union address in January, President Barack Obama called on Congress, business owners and local representatives to take action to raise the national wage floor.  The magic number?  $10.10.  Or rather, a 14% increase from the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. If the President’s proposal becomes a reality, a full-time minimum wage worker would see a bump in pay from about $15,000 a year to roughly $21,000.  That’s enough to lift a family of three above the poverty line.

And Americans overwhelmingly support the idea.  In fact, some 71% of American voters (across party lines) say, “Let’s do it.”

For diverse job seekers, what does this development mean? According to the latest Diversity Jobs Report, minorities currently account for a significant number of employees in the public administration sector, hospitality, retail and construction.  Compared to wages in sectors such as healthcare, finance and information technology, these jobs historically tend to pay lower wages.  They also represent industries in which diverse candidates are underrepresented.

Will rising tides lift all boats?

It’s difficult to predict the effect of raising the federal minimum wage across the country.  However if 600 economists (including seven Nobel laureates) are to be believed, it’s a step in the right direction.  Politics aside, equitable wages can ultimately have a positive impact on the quality of life for ALL workers, particularly Hispanics, African Americans, veterans, disabled persons, the LGBT community and women.   At Professional Diversity Network, we think that’s a good thing.

So, what would you do with a 14% wage increase?  Will you be affected by the proposed change in your state?  Tell us your story below.   In the meantime, happy job hunting!

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