I think minimum wage should be at least $15 per hour because the price of basic supplies which has increased steadily over the years should be adequately compensated for through a correlation with the cost for living, especially for those who are studying to improve their qualifications in their respective careers.
Although I have worked a few part time minimum wage jobs in addition to other opportunities while studying in graduate school I have still had to rely on educational and personal loans to support my cost of living.
Graduate school for a Ph.D. program in Urban Affairs & Public Policy was an important decision to learn better how to support the work I care about as well as stay competitive in the field.
I have saved some money by continuing to live with my elderly parents during this time to save money for tuition which was a total cost of approximately $80K USD while I studied from 2012 to 2018. I had a 50% state provided scholarship for two years and worked as a part time graduate research assistant or policy fellow for two other years. When those opportunities ended I needed to work beyond the university while still trying to write dissertation proposal for a final dissertation document that was approximately 261 pages of hard work.
Minimum wage should be increased because work and student life balance especially when studying for higher education can be really tough given scarce amount of time to attend to all the demands and priorities of that lifestyle.
For example, in 2016, I had a 3.8 GPA at University of Delaware's Ph.D. program. however this dropped to 3.6 GPA by graduation in 2018, which is still alright however is the disappointing result from my perspective, of a very tough schedule that summer. I was taking two tough graduate courses and working two part time minimum wage jobs which I was really thankful for, plus starting out with small business efforts for which I was learning how to establish with minimum experience and a lot of enthusiasm...
For one job, I drove 45 minutes to earn $8.25/hour to a neighboring location at Glenn Mills, PA., to work as part time receptionist at a nursing home. My work hours were 4-8 pm, during dinner time, when I was not allowed to eat at my desk, but I would stay awake with coffee and a candybar which was really unhealthy and then had health care costs to offset that until I learned to pack a granola bar or fruit. Saturdays were better because I worked during the day and someone could cover my lunch break.
For my second job, I earned $12/hour in Dover, DE. I drove an hour from where I lived to work on an Early Education Policy Fellowship for the Delaware Department of Education, that I was thankful to receive after meeting the director at a seminar who was looking for an intern and a committee who reviewed my application and accepted it. I learned how tough quality improvement initiatives in early education are because teacher retention is low and turn over rates are high due to low pay rates. In fact, the average pay rate for early education and care teachers is between $8 to $11 compared to an average of $20 for K-12 teachers. Programs like TeachAmerica and Wages$ compensate these teachers for payments towards college credits if they stay for more time in their job position so more educated and highly trained teachers are retained in the classroom to support young children and the staff qualify for better pay.
I am now the owner of a nonprofit, a for profit, and work part time at local universities for adjunct teaching and survey research. The opportunity for working at minimum wage jobs still added to my resume to bolster my earnings from approximately $25K per year to being qualified for triple the amount if I continue on this path of academics and research line.
Thank you so much for considering raising the minimum wage.
~ Pialee Roy, Ph.D.
P.S. Please check out these other articles below about the need for raising minimum wage...