time Utah raised its minimum wage
By Holly Adams
October 4, 2006 | Along with 26 other states, Utah
has the lowest possible minimum wage allowed by federal
Five dollars and fifteen cents.
Can you imagine living on $5.15 an hour? How about
while going to school and working part-time? That's
what many college students do every day. As college
students we are expected to be poor. But how poor is
too poor? Is it really fair to students -- who are expected
to pay tuition, pay for books, pay for housing, and
eat -- to pay them barely enough to scrape by?
Why is the going rate for on-campus jobs at USU under
On those high wages students are able to flourish
and purchase many sandwiches and high-priced meats.
Really, though, it's hard. A lot of students graduate
from high school and are cut off from their parents.
Some get help from scholarships, grants, and their deep
dark savings accounts their parents started when they
were still in the womb. But without those sources, a
lot of young people can't be students.
The poor wages given at the university -- and in Logan
in general -- take a toll on many students who are forced
to take breaks from school to earn money, get student
loans, or to quit school all together.
So why doesn't someone do something about it? Because
they don't have to. Places like Logan have a saturated
job market. If you won't take the job -- no worries
-- someone else will. Employers have the option to pay
so little because there are college students who have
to eat. It seems like everyone just has to pay their
dues -- you work for minimum wage for a while, and then
pay off those student loans on low starting salaries,
and if you've survived, you can live like a human being.
The highest minimum wage in the country is in Santa
Fe, N.M. where it is $9.50, with plans to increase it
to $10.50 in 2008. Realizing that cost of living in
Utah is less than in other states, the state legislature
needs to realize there is still a cost of living.
It's not just high school students living on minimum
wage, either. That is one of the main reasons a higher
wage hasn't passed in Utah. The legislature thinks only
teenagers are affected. That's just not true.
During his presidency, Bill Clinton gave the states
the ability to raise their minimum wage above the federal
level. So why have 26 states decided to keep the ridiculously
It doesn't matter how easy the job is -- if you need
the job done, you need to be willing to pay for it.
Someone needs to dig deeper into their pockets and pay
students a decent wage. That doesn't mean they should
be paid the minimum. Don't take the easy way out. Remember
that minimum wage is just a suggestion.