The most glaring and offensive statement in Ms. Woeber’s article about the minimum wage is “most people in poverty who are living off the government would love to do anything to continue living off the government.” This enormous generalization betrays an ignorance of how the social safety net actually functions as well as a blindness to socioeconomic privilege. The majority of those receiving government support are the elderly, the disabled, hard-working single parents, and veterans. Ask any of them and they will tell you their benefits do not exactly amount to “living off the government.”
The opinion also makes the false claim that most minimum wage workers are teens and students. The non-partisan Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the occupation with the lowest median age of employees is retail shoe stores, at 24. Food service boasts an even higher median age and lower percentage of teens and students. Furthermore, 15 million Americans support themselves by working low-wage jobs (less than $10.00/hour).
Ms. Woeber summarizes her viewpoint with, “If you want more money, go out and get a real job.” Let’s be clear: these jobs are real, they are valuable to our society and economy, and the people who work them full time deserve more than derogatory labels and crushing poverty. Call me crazy, but I believe people should be paid enough to survive, even if it means not all 16 year olds will find a summer job this year.