David Ancell's Virtual Home

Living Wage

  /   Thursday July 27, 2006  

One principle of Catholic social teaching is that an employer must pay employees a living wage. Other factors may be used in the determination of what an employee should be paid such as the employee’s productivity and the importance of the work to the organization. However, in any case, the employee should be able to support his needs and those of his family on what he makes.

Interestingly, I ran across this article in the New York Times that suggests that stores with more than 90,000 square feet and that are part of companies with more than one billion dollars in gross revenue must raise wages to $10/hour by 2010 and pay at least $3/hour in benefits. Many have hailed this as a great advance in giving a good wage to all workers, but others have concerns. Some of these concerns are quite valid.

My question about raising the minimum wage is whether it will truly raise the standard of living. If it doesn’t, it defeats the purpose. Some places may cut staff, meaning that fewer people will be able to get a job of any kind. Others may raise prices, which would render the increased wage less beneficial. However, it seems that some research has suggested that these problems haven’t happened in other places.

Also, note that the article says that the average wage in some of these places is above the requirement already. So, this may not affect everyone as the business may not raise the salary of everyone. I had some friends who worked somewhere while in college when the minimum wage was raised, and they weren’t given much above the new minimum wage when it took effect. In other words, the people primarily helped were the new people still making at or near the current minimum wage.

As Christians, it seems to me that what we should strive for is that business be more balanced between pay for employees and profit. In other words, we know they need to make money, but perhaps they could be willing to make a little less to ensure that people are able to obtain a good standard of living on what they make. It may be that people with more buying power will spend more, and the businesses may find themselves making even more money.

Category: Posts imported from Danger! Falling Brainwaves, Uncategorized



No comments have been made on this post.

Please note that all comments are moderated, and they will be posted once approved.

David's Pages

David's Pages

RSS Feed
Atom Feed