The Minimum Wage Effect
Since 1938, the federal government has instituted a minimum wage, and from its
inception until stagnation in the wage in the late 1970s, it kept up with the cost of living.
“Minimum wage has not risen proportionately with the cost of living over the last 40
years, thus shrinking the middle class and putting the working class and working poor in peril”
said Andrew McIntosh, a professor of Sociology.
In Pennsylvania, $7.25 has been the minimum wage since 2010. In 1988, the minimum
wage was $3.35. At first glance the minimum wage looks to have doubled and kept up with the
cost of living. However, due to inflation and a weakened dollar, the buying power of $100 is less
than half of what it was 30 years ago. Although it affects us as college students significantly, all
income brackets feel it.
“Whatever your wage is this is impacting a worker’s spending or budgeting” said McIntosh.
Spending in daily life is an unavoidable inconvenience as well is monthly expenditures.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran an article by Tim Grant in 2013 titled: “Typical Pennsylvania
wage is too little to pay the average rent.”
“When a basic two-bedroom apartment costs an average $895 monthly, renters must earn
at least $17.21 … to afford a decent roof over their heads,” Grant wrote.
The average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in 2016 was $941, yet a biweekly
paycheck for someone paid minimum wage is $580 before taxes. Students at NCC must pay for
tuition, room and board, and out-of- pocket expenses which minimum wage cannot cover.
At NCC’s main campus, the cost of a semester’s tuition for full-time students is $2,115
for Northampton County residents, and $4,620 for residents of other Pennsylvania counties.
Workers paid minimum wage approximately make $15,080 annually.
Housing also can be another financial struggle for students. According to the NCC
website, students pay $3,289 for a single bedroom, $2,652 for a double, and $2,971 for an
apartment to dorm in per semester.
Students at NCC have out-of- pocket expenses including materials, supplies, and
textbooks which puts them into further debt. There are also specific programs which require
students to spend money for items not covered by financial aid.