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Staff Editorial: Texas is Failing it’s Minimum Wage Workers

The current minimum wage isn’t enough to survive anymore in Texas

Starting on Oct. 1, Dallas County employees will see something most minimum wage workers in Texas haven’t seen in a decade: a pay raise. 

The county is following the example of a few other Texas counties to raise their minimum wage to $15, yet the decision is an ironic one considering the federally mandated pay floor hasn’t changed since 2009 and that Texas has the most minimum wage workers in the U.S. As the cost of living rises in Texas, the minimum wage has remained stagnant for the past decade and only means to hurt low-income Texans. 

Currently, the statewide minimum wage matches the federal pay floor of $7.25, but to make a livable wage in Texas, an adult would have to earn $11.48 an hour. This wage includes food, housing, transportation and other basic necessities, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Living Wage Calculator

The economy and the state of Texas have failed to take care of their low-income workers, so therefore Texas’ minimum wage should be raised to at least $10 to account for the rising cost of living in the state. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 in August 2009, which was the last time the federal minimum was raised, has the same buying power as $8.62 in August 2019. Nineteen states and over 20 cities have raised their minimum wage from the federal standard in 2019, some even going as high as $15 in cities such as Seattle and San Francisco. 

The current minimum wage only perpetuates the cycle of poverty in the U.S., with Latinx communities suffering the most due to the inability to build wealth based off the measly $7.25. According to the U.S. Census, Hispanics make up 39 percent of the state population, but 51 percent live below the poverty level. 

Despite support for higher minimum wage, the Texas legislature has shot down dozens of proposals to raise it, which in turn continues this cycle of poverty and does not protect the state’s 196,000 minimum wage workers

Business owners and economists often argue that the minimum wage is “too high for low skilled occupations and that the fair wage for any job should be determined purely by the market forces of supply and demand” according to a HuffPost article. In reality, the market does not work in fairness to low-income workers and only benefits the business, rather than protect the thousands of minimum wage employees. 

The Texas legislature should approve to raise the statewide minimum wage to at least $10 in order for citizens to make a livable income and reflect the rising cost of living in Texas. Additionally, Texas businesses should take it upon themselves to raise their wages to meet the rising cost of living and stand in solidarity with minimum wage workers across the state.

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