Minimum wage explained

Jackie Jahfetson

An NMU organization is helping people better understand minimum wage by showing how the process works in society and how it affects the job market.

The Economics Student Association (ESA), an organization that brings attention to economic issues on Northern’s campus, assembled a learning table regarding minimum wage in Jamrich last week. In height of Minimum Wage Awareness Week, the ESA illustrated minimum wage at the state level, the pros and cons, along with facts of how minimum wage affects the real world through poster boards and live- graphical illustrations. Each day, ESA members spoke to a variety of students and professors who had questions on minimum wage and offered participants a survey to voice their own opinions on the topic.

Minimum wage may be a controversial subject to approach because many people have their own opinions on it, but it’s important to understand how the system works, said ESA President Ryan Meister, a sophomore economics major.

“Everybody could use a refresher, whether you have a Ph.D in labor economics or whatever,” Meister said. “I feel there’s a lot of misconception. There’s pros and cons on each side, but you can’t deny the facts.”
Sometimes the media can misguide people’s perceptions on minimum wage and by taking a step back and looking more at the “economics point of view,” people can see the bigger picture, Meister said.

Whether you increase minimum wage or not, there’s many things to take into consideration because it affects how many people get fired, the amount of employees entering the job market and the increase in unemployment, Meister added.

“Raising or lowering [minimum wage], I feel like everybody is going to find their way to make ends meet. It’s a good thing to have a job in college, whether it’s minimum wage or you’re making $50 an hour,” he said.
Since Jan. 1, 2016, minimum wage has been increased from $8.15 to $9.25 due to the levels set by the state of Michigan. According to the last payroll cycle, NMU has 859 hourly jobs at the minimum wage pay gap and 539 hourly jobs in which students earn more than minimum wage, said Rhea Dever, assistant vice president of Human Resources.

NMU students working at minimum wage have “benefited the most” from the overall increase in minimum wage, earning $1.75 more since 2016, Dever continued. In order to comply with the increase in minimum wage over the past three years, NMU’s general fund needed to be increased by $109,500 for the current fiscal year to cover the cost of student employees, she said.

Though the increase in minimum wage has benefited students, the total of student employees has decreased from 1,428 in 2016 to 1,305 in 2018, Dever added.