NewsLocal News


Debate over minimum wage felt in Central Texas

Posted at 9:14 PM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 22:14:57-05

The debate on whether or not to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour has many wondering what life is like for those who make the bare minimum.

The federal minimum wage rate is currently $7.25 an hour. The last time it was changed was 12 years ago in 2009, when the minimum wage was $6.55.

But advocates say the minimum wage hasn't kept up with the current cost of living, forcing people to work two or three jobs to get by.

"Especially in these times, money is tight, and when you're looking at either being homeless or not being able to afford your medication or maybe skipping that last meal or trying to figure out if you can pay for clothes for your child, I think those are all really tough decisions that people are trying to make," said Peter Peter Mungiguerra, who is in favor of raising the minimum wage.

People who earn minimum wage make $1,256.67 a month.

According to PayScale, when you factor in monthly bills such as rent, with an average of $885.91 per month, $177.55 on energy bills, and around $50 for gas, people are only left with $143.26 to spend on groceries. That doesn't factor in things like health care or insurance.

"While I do agree that $7.25 under our current economic situation is low, I can't say, "Well, $10, $11, $12, $9 dollars would fix it,"" said Jon Ker, who is against $15/hour minimum wage.

Ker says doing so would end up hurting people more than helping.

"You increase labor costs, prices go up because the price has to meet the costs plus a fair return on their investment. So everything is gonna go up," he said.

Some businesses opt to pay employees more than the federal minimum wage, but people fear forcing a $15/hour pay would cause many mom & pop shops to simply go out of business if they can't afford to pay their employees.

"It needs to be a collaboration between what's fair and reasonable that the government can truly monitor and encourage or enforce, and what the particular business or even the industry might be able to reasonably afford," said Ker.