US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Should we raise the minimum wage? In NY, Dolan thinks so

Liz Lefebvre | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Yesterday in The Atlantic, Jordan Weissmann reminded us of a huge problem still facing America: the fact that pay for workers is falling. Despite recent modest improvements in the economy, the working poor are not only not getting ahead, they are actually getting poorer.

Said Weissmann, "Income inequality is here to stay, unless something radical changes that will give working class families a larger slice of the pie." He then asks: Is it time to raise the minimum wage?

Doing so would likely help the problem, though Weissmann also recognizes a need to examine the many factors that currently skew pay toward those who are already at the top. (For another sobering reminder about the reality of work in America, check out another graph from The Atlantic to see how bleak the forecast really is.)

Almost on cue, we hear of how Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, has been urging New York’s state legislature to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour. In a statement, Dolan said, “Our sustained recession and painfully slow recovery have left many of these workers — often people of color and frequently the newest immigrants to our shores who therefore have the fewest support systems — on the brink of homelessness, with not enough in their paychecks to pay for the most basic of necessities, like food, medicine, or clothing for their children.”

Dolan is taking a great first step here by arguing in favor of the working poor who are unable to make ends meet. (He’s also been recently heard criticizing the Republicans on immigration policy.)

Let's hope he sees this through and starts asking the harder questions, about why the poor keep getting poorer while the wealthy continue to make huge gains.