Letter: Minimum wage

February 17, 2014 

Idaho Falls pundit Neal Larson tells everyone only 5 percent of people make minimum wage, and they don’t need help anyway because they get food stamps, housing assistance and Medicaid, and are mostly young people. Then he weighs their plight against the perceived harm to businesses.

In fact, Idaho has the highest percentage of workers making minimum wage in the nation! The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said over 7.7 percent of workers in Idaho make minimum wage or less.

Anyhow, a more honest assessment wouldn’t ask how many people make minimum wage, but how many make less than $10 an hour! Per The Huffington Post, 1 in 4 (26 percent of workers) makes less than $10. Since the Great Recession, private sector job growth has been in low-wage service industry and retail, jobs now being filled with older people. Stagnant wages result in less consumer spending, making economic recovery more difficult.

Larson says a better way to help the working poor is to let our economy thrive. If every dollar in unemployment pumps $1.50 into the local economy, surely every dollar raise in wages would do the same. Every penny of that raise will be spent at local businesses.

SHERRIE GOFF, Pocatello

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