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My Turn: Minimum wage no longer offers even a minimal lifestyle

By Tarik Woods

“Wages are too high,” stated our president at the Milwaukee debate. Well, Mr. Trump, in North Carolina, even if you work full time for minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, you will still be living in poverty.

If you are in college attempting to work to pay for school in North Carolina, and you work full time (in addition to attending school) for minimum wage, you can spend every dime you earn and still not make a dent in what it costs to get an education.

If you are a single parent, and you work a minimum wage job to try and provide for a family, you will never make ends meet. What the billionaire fails to realize is that the minimum wage, when adjusted for inflation, has been declining since the early ’70s. I believe strongly that it is time to raise the minimum wage.

If our economy ran the way it does in Economics 101 textbooks I would not be writing this ​column. People who worked in the market would be paid based on the value of their product. The wage of the workers would go up with inflation and productivity changes, and there would be no need at all for a minimum wage to even exist.

However, it is no secret that our economy does not function as well as it should. Instead, for the past four decades, owners and managers have been taking the lion’s share of the profits and not increasing the wages of the workers, so even as the cost of living goes up, salaries do not.

I have continued to hear complaints that “food stamps and welfare are a waste of tax dollars” and that “people should not be lazy and ​go to ​work.” To those people I would say: Call your local legislators because if they will not raise the minimum wage, people will have to continue using government assistance to survive. I am sick of our state catering to large companies rather than looking out for working class Americans.

The common scare tactic used by those in opposition to raising the minimum wage is that we will lose tons of jobs if workers are paid more. This is blatantly a lie, and the evidence actually seems to point in the opposite direction: We will add jobs. This is not to say that we should institute a huge spike in the minimum wage from its current $7.25 to $15 dollars an hour, but a modest increase of $0.75 to $1 would take us back to being able to work 40 hours a week and not live in poverty.

Tarik Woods, who grew up in Salisbury, is a student at UNC-Chapel Hill.

My Turn submissions should be 500-700 words in length. Please email to letters@salisburypost.com with “My Turn” in the subject line. Include name, address, phone number and, if possible, a digital photo of the writer.

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