Monday, August 12, 2013

Australia’s minimum wage is $16

Say the U.S. businesses can't pay a living wage? One just needs to look at Australia, which already pays workers at least $15 an hour and fast-food employees above $16 an hour, to see that it can be done.

What is the result of paying workers a fair wage? High unemployment? Slow economic growth? Neither. Instead the Land Down Under was the only nation that avoided a catastrophic recession five years ago. All while receiving health care, vacation days and sick days as required by the Australian government.
Salvatore Babones, a senior lecturer at the University of Sydney, notes the conditions for working people are just plan better in his country:
I think it's long past the time when Americans should wake up and see, you know, how far along the rest of the world has come. If a $15 minimum wage seems unrealistic, it's only because we're stuck in the 1950s or 1960s idea of how you should live as a worker in America. Ordinary workers, people who do, you know, grocery store checkout or fast food, simply do much better in the rest of the developed world than they do in the United States.
While buddies of big business have long insisted that an increase in wages would only hurt workers, that just hasn’t proven true. Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said economists no longer hold such a point of view:
Why don’t they lose their jobs? In part, because some of the cost of the higher wages comes out of profits, which, as noted, explains the “who and why” of the people fighting the hardest against this idea.
Others agree. Too many companies are simply holding onto cash in an effort to maximize their bottom lines. In the end, they are hurting themselves:
If average Americans don't get paid living wages, they can't spend much money buying products and services. And when average Americans can't buy products and services, the companies that sell products and services to average Americans can't grow. So the profit obsession of America's big companies is, ironically, hurting their ability to accelerate revenue growth.
It is time for corporate America to move beyond the old tired lines it has used for decades. It can afford to pay higher wages without shuttering. Let’s create a system that pays fair wages and allows businesses to profit, too.