Letter: Raise the minimum wage

Protesters march around the McDonald’s restaurant in the 3200 block of Main Street, early Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, in Kansas City, Mo., as part of a national day of protest organized by Fight for $15 and United We Stand movements, seeking higher hourly wages, including for workers at fast-food restaurants and airports. (File photo/The Kansas City Star via AP)

The federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour has not increased in the past decade, and with a Republican president and Congress, it’s unlikely to change in the next three years.

Accordingly, many states have taken it upon themselves to increase their minimum wage. This includes three of our four neighbors: Missouri ($7.85), Nebraska ($9.00) and Colorado ($10.20). Kansas and Oklahoma use the federal guideline.

It is not surprising that Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado all experienced a quicker recovery from the 2008 recession than did Kansas. We have a consumer-driven economy, and no group turns their money over faster than minimum wage workers. Some studies have shown that up to 40 percent of the jobs in our country pay near minimum wage.

I would encourage the Kansas Legislature to take a serious look at increasing the state’s minimum wage — at least to Missouri’s level. With the new Republican Tax bill giving huge windfalls to businesses, now is the time to bring some balance to the business/labor relationship by increasing the minimum wage. Additional benefits to the state will accrue from reductions in food stamp and EIC payments due to the higher earnings.

BOB WOLLIN, Topeka

 

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