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Why Tacoma Needs A $15/Hour Minimum Wage

Did you know that the poverty rate in 2013 in Tacoma was 17.7%? That’s according to UW Today, a University of Washington website.

worst-fearThe PediaCities webpage also cites this same 17.7% figure. And as ironic as it may seem, PediaCities also tells us that Tacoma has an unemployment is 6.3%. Doesn’t that tell you that there must be a hell of a lot Tacomans living at or below the poverty line who actually have jobs?

Moreover, the poverty line figures are ridiculously out of date and unrealistic. Did you know that the US government poverty rate comes to $11,670 a year for a single person and $19,790 a year for a family of three? Oxfam America reports that at least 25% of American workers have low-wage jobs and 40% of American families live at or below 200% of the ridiculous official poverty line.
No doubt, Tacoma is in the low-average end of this range.

And yet, across the US, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the average low-wage worker is responsible for half of their family’s support and has an average age of 35. In addition, EPI informs us that one third of them are 40 years old or older. That’s probably typical of Tacoma as well.

Such low-wage workers can’t afford to take the time off to look for a better job, to care for a sick child or spouse, or even stay home if they get the flu, let alone pursue an education. They live in terror of losing their jobs. That makes them wage slaves.

There are thousands of Tacoma workers just 2 or 3 paychecks away from homelessness. Many of these workers need some kind of welfare assistance, so they don’t have to choose between food and rent, which amounts to a government subsidy to employers too cheap to pay their workers a fair wage. And who pays for this welfare? Other workers who are marginally better off finance these employers with their taxes.

When wealthier people get an increase in their disposable income, they invest it, save it, buy luxuries with it. Most of it does not circulate in the economy.

On the other hand, when working people like us have more money in our pockets, we spend it here in Tacoma. We spend it on food, rent, clothes, mortgages, haircuts, maybe the movies or other entertainment. We spend it locally on goods and services.

Increased local spending means increased local demand. Increased local demand means increased local economic activity. It also means greater local job opportunity for working people like us.

Tacoma’s founders hoped to make this the “City of Destiny.” Help us do that. Raise the minimum wage to $15/hour now!

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6 comments to Why Tacoma Needs A $15/Hour Minimum Wage

  • Tim

    You failed to address we have the lowest labor participation rate in decades, with 65 percent participation. This is the bulk of your people living in poverty. You failed to mention that Tacoma’s poverty rate, while still high, has already drastically shrunk in the past 3 years under the current system …

    • 15nowadmin

      Hi Tim,

      You wrote: “You failed to address we have the lowest labor participation rate in decades, with 65 percent participation.”

      Help me understand what you’re trying to say, please. Lowest labor participation rate in what? With respect, what you’re trying to say is unclear to me.

      Another thing that is unclear to me. You wrote: “You failed to mention that Tacoma’s poverty rate, while still high, has already drastically shrunk in the past 3 years under the current system

      What are you referring to when you say “the current system“? What does “drastically shrunk” mean? Can you provide documentation for any of that?
      AOS

  • Eric

    “People can’t take time off of work to look for a job?” Really? They work ALL THE TIME and don’t have 10 minutes to perform an internet search? Your argument is as dated as it is invalid. The era of the traditional job search is over. Almost no one looks at the printed want ads anymore looking for work. The digital age has made that method all but obsolete. These people you speak of certainly have access to the internet and can look there. Worksource WA has thousands of positions at their fingertips just waiting for people to fill them. Your entire movement is just shallow socialist propaganda.

  • Editor

    Boy Eric!

    Planet Earth to Eric! Yoo-hoo!

    Your remarks display an amazing poverty of imagination. You’re really out of touch with the realities of job searching.

    You can’t land a job by simply doing a 10-minute internet search, especially for a low-wage job. You can maybe find 1 or 2 leads if you spend between 30 minutes or half a day on the internet. Job searches for these kinds of positions usually require a few weeks to a few months of dedicated effort.

    Getting some job leads off the internet is only step 1 of the lengthy job-search process. Moreover, you’ll need at least 20 or 30 leads, and likely many more than that. There do not happen to be many headhunters operating in that part of the labor market we’re talking about here, you know. Then there’s getting time off for a few interviews. Suppose you have a minimum-wage job already and you want a better one? What do you tell the boss when you request that time?

    Thanks for writing, Eric. We appreciate the softball, even if it was ineptly delivered.

    –Editor

  • Dave

    Actually, I landed my current (low-wage) job with a 10 minute internet search (followed up with a 3 sentence email that led to a 5 minute interview). It wasn’t the first time, either.