Raise Idaho has big dreams for small wages

Raise Idaho has big dreams for small wages

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On Jul. 24, 2009, Idaho’s minimum wage went from $6.55 an hour up to $7.25 an hour, the same as the federal minimum wage, and has stayed there since.

According to Raise the Minimum Wage website, if the minimum wage rate had kept up with inflation, it would currently be at $10.74 an hour.

Raise Idaho is looking to raise Idaho’s minimum wage to $8.10 an hour starting January 2015.

Boise State’s Counselors for Social Justice student organization hosted members Anne Nesse and Dr. Rolf Nesse of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to come speak to students on Jan. 29 about their organization and see if students would be interested in getting involved.

Based on the attendance of five students, not part of this club, it seemed there is little interest.

“I don’t know a lot of people who would say ‘no’ to that (raising minimum wage),” said Sirrah Elliot, sophomore elementary education major, who attended the event. “I’m actually strongly thinking about going out and getting signatures. Being 19 and a college student, most (students) don’t make more than minimum wage.”

Raise Idaho is looking to gather supporting signatures to submit to the Secretary of State by May 1, 2014. The organization is one-ninth of the way to the necessary number of signatures.

“It won’t cure all poverty. Raising the minimum wage is one small thing we can do so people can have respect when they go to work,” Anne Nesse said during her speech.

Anne Nesse also said that 31,000 Idahoans work for the “non-survivable” wage of $7.25 an hour. Overall, 47 percent of Idaho’s population is “low-wage.”

“You can’t support a family by making $7.25 an hour. I can’t even support myself on that. I can’t imagine having to support kids too,” Elliot said.

Rolf Nesse showed correlating data about how raising the minimum wage would affect many areas of life, especially health and education.

Rolf Nesse also showed various slides comparing the U.S. to other countries in terms of wages and how areas like health and education were impacted.

Overall, correlation showed countries which had more livable wages and less economic inequality had better health care and education for their citizens.

One example was children who went to pre-school had 13 years added to their lifespan compared to children who didn’t go to pre-school.

Rolf Nesse also said that not only did these socioeconomic factors impact quality of life, but basic values like trust also played a roll.

According to  Rolf Nesse, with lower economic inequality, there was a correlation of more trust among people.

“I was really surprised about the pre-school statistic,” Elliot said. “It’s another example of how everything relates.”

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