POV | Minimum Wage Increase Not the Best Response to Poverty
Many people seem to think the current debate over raising Jefferson County's minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 is a simple one - either you want to help poor people live better or you don't.
But that's an oversimplification.
Local economist Paul Coomes recently noted that a large majority of people currently earning the minimum wage are teenagers or young adults living at home, unmarried, working part-time, or working in restaurant jobs where they also receive tips. To me, these people don't need a minimum wage increase because they have every likelihood of moving up the income ladder as they grow older and gain experience, and they don't have families at home who are suffering.
However, there is a significant number of older people, often raising families, who are trapped in minimum wage jobs and, as a practical matter, can see no improvement in the future. These people do need economic relief. But raising the minimum wage isn't the answer.
Instead, why not do as Coomes suggests and establish a Kentucky version of the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit, which - through tax rebates - would put more money into the hands of people living in true low-income households? This would provide wage relief for those who really need it, while not placing yet another onerous requirement on business owners.
It sounds like the perfect compromise to me, but what do you think? Call and tell us.