I got my first “real job” at age 15, working at a gas station/lube shop, making $4.25 per hour. Prior to that I had worked for myself mowing lawns in the summer. This job was great as it was not just a summer job, but was one that I could work year round. Not to mention the fact that they paid me minimum wage! I honestly remember feeling excited about that. At the time I had friends that were working for less, which made me feel fortunate due to my limited experience.
This job gave me a great start and introduction to the workforce. I quickly learned what accountability truly meant. I began to understand both the positive and negative affect of my actions. My actions could not only affect me, but also my coworkers, my employer, and the company as a whole. I also quickly learned that the owner of the lube shop was running this company for one reason, and that was to make money. He wanted people on board that could help him achieve that goal.
The math was simple, the more cars he could service and the less he paid out to his employees, the more money he could make. There is a balancing act in keeping talent, but not overpaying for it. He understood that this was mostly likely not going to be my career and that I would eventually leave for “greener pastures”.
There has been a lot of conversation about raising the minimum wage. I don’t feel any of the perceived benefits can truly help the economy in the long term. States such as California are looking at raising their minimum wage by 66%, from $9.00/hr. to $15.00/hr. As detailed in the article “The Minimum Wage”, many people, including politicians, are discounting the basic principles of economics in consider these increases.
There are few conditions in which raising the minimum wage would actually increase demand. Raising the minimum wage will make it more difficult for the inexperienced worker, specifically teenagers, to find work. This will deny many of our youth the opportunity to have the experience of being a contributing member of the workforce and learning the valuable life lessons.
As for the increased payroll expenses, employers have several options that they can consider in running their organizations more efficiently. It should be expected that the consequence of this increase would ultimately be passed on to the consumer in the form of increased prices of goods and services provided.
Minimum wage jobs are just that—they are minimum wage jobs, a starting point for bigger and better things. They should not be looked at as a final destination. For those individuals that are unhappy with their pay rate, look at it from the perspective of the owner. Ask the question, “Am I an asset or a liability.” If you are an asset and feel your time and efforts are worth more, then that would be a sign that it may be time for you to find a new job.
There is nothing wrong with starting from the bottom and working your way up. I am thankful for my first job, for the experience I obtained and the foundation it helped create. We owe it to our youth to allow them to have the same opportunities and experiences, as they will eventually be the future workforce.