Minimum Wage Levels — Let the States and Free Markets Decide
There is a wide variation in opinions on the minimum wage at both the national and state levels. Some would prefer minimum wages ranging from $15 to more than $20 per hour, while others would prefer no wage floor at all. What I am more concerned about is allowing the federal government in Washington D.C. to impose an arbitrary, one-size-fits-all mandate that doesn’t consider the significant differences between our 50 unique states.
One of these factors is the cost of living, which can vary greatly from state to state. Everything from food, housing, and other essentials tend to cost more in states on the coasts than in Midwestern states.
There is a huge cost of living disparity between my home state of Iowa and states like New York or California. According to the Tax Foundation, $100 in Iowa is actually worth about $110 compared to other states. In California though, that same $100 is only worth $88 and in New York, it’s just $86.
This means Iowans’ wages are stretched further than New Yorkers’ when it comes to buying groceries, paying rent or having a night out with friends.
So does it make sense to have leaders in Washington D.C. arbitrarily picking a wage rate that all states are required to follow? I think not. Instead, we should allow states to evaluate their unique situations and set wage floors that make the most sense.
Additionally, states should be the ones that determine other employment policies for benefits like paid leave or health care coverage. Any sort of national policy strips power away from the states and harms their ability to address the individual needs of their citizens.
At the end of the day though, it’s always best to allow employers to make these decisions. In order to attract and retain the best talent, businesses know they need to offer competitive wages and benefits to their employees. Government shouldn’t overburden our job creators with overregulation that makes it harder for them to innovate and do business.
State officials know the needs of their local workers and employers much better than a federal government that is thousands of miles away. We should avoid national mandates and allow states to do what is best for the citizens who live and work in their communities.