Texas is often heralded for being the most prolific job creator in the United States. One look at the basic employment rolls reveals that in itself, that is a true statement.
What is often missed in that purely quantitative assessment of the roaring Texas job factory? Too many Texans are forced to work in low-wage jobs that have no benefits, and are living paycheck to paycheck with little ability to meet their most basic needs, much less plan for their future. This is the painful reality that occurs in a state that has encouraged corporations to put profits over people for far too long. As revealed in a recent study by The Economic Policy Institute (via Fortune Magazine), it turns out that Texas needs an increase of the minimum wage more than any other state…
Which state needs a minimum wage increase the most?
The Economic Policy Institute tried to answer this question by examining how many state residents would be directly affected by a minimum wage hike to $10.10 and what sort of state stimulus such a raise would produce.
After crunching the numbers, there was a clear winner: Texas, where the current minimum wage is the federally mandated $7.25 an hour.
Out of an estimated total workforce of nearly 11 million in Texas, a $10.10 minimum wage would directly affect 1.95 million people – in other words, that many Texans would get a raise because a $10.10 wage would surpass what they currently make. (Another 920,000 Texans would be indirectly affected since they make just above $10.10 and a minimum wage hike would likely adjust pay scales overall.)
With so many Texans struggling to make ends meet, one would think that calls to raise the state’s minimum wage would be growing louder. In recent months, there have been several prominent protests from national sources, but not as much organizing done exclusively at the state level.
The grand irony here? Raising Texas’ minimum wage wouldn’t just benefit low-wage workers, but would likely be a huge boon to business across the state as well. Here’s more on that, again from Fortune Magazine…
What outpaces other states even more is the economic benefit that Texas would receive from a $10.10 minimum wage. The EPI estimates that the state would see a gross domestic product impact of $3.1 billion, that’s nearly $2 billion more than the potential stimulus in Florida — again the runner-up.
It’s not just the total number of workers in Texas – the second most populous state in the U.S. – that puts the state in this position. It’s also the state’s incredibly large low-wage workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 400,000 workers in Texas whose hourly wage is at or below the federal standard of $7.25 – more than double that of any other state. While that’s a lot in absolute terms, it also represents a large portion of the state’s overall workforce: 6.4% — the fifth highest percentage in the country, behind Tennessee, Idaho, Arkansas and Alabama.
Many business leaders have figured out that raising wages is good for them. Take for example Buc-ee’s… the gas station and knick-knack chain that is quickly becoming a Lone Star institution. Key to their undeniable success? The fact all workers are paid wages starting at $11.50 per hour. Contrary to all the horror stories people tell about stores collapsing if they’re forced to pay employees more, and prices of goods surging out of control, Buc-ee’s is doing just fine.
Right now, people in every corner of the Lone Star State are making critical decisions in the voting booth about education, health care, and future government priorities. Though the actual minimum wage may not be up for a vote in 2014, you can be sure that this issue is on the ballot. If you support raising the minimum wage for the state of Texas, then you should also support Wendy Davis… the only candidate that has pledged to do just that. As a former minimum wage worker and single mom, she knows that even if politicians and news media aren’t always talking about it, establishing a living wage for Texas will have a drastic effects on millions of people’s lives.
Here’s what Davis said last month, via the Victoria Advocate…
Raising the minimum wage suddenly became a hot issue in the Texas governor’s race just after Labor Day, with Democrat Wendy Davis endorsing it, and Republican Greg Abbott opposing it.
The national campaign by fast-food workers calling for raising the minimum wage helped spark the discussion.
“I’ll fight to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 because this is a family issue,” Davis declared Thursday at a rally at the University of Texas-San Antonio, during her multicity tour of universities.
“Half of the 2.8 million people in Texas who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage are supporting families,” Davis said.
“$7.25 an hour is $15,000 a year, and I know from experience that is not enough to support a family,” Davis said.
Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, also supports raising the state’s minimum wage. As the state’s highest elected officials, Davis and Van de Putte would truly have the ability to bring this need to light and commit the legislature to a wage increase.
On the other hand, Davis’ opponent Greg Abbott remains a vigorous defender low-wages for the Lone Star state.
A lot of people think that elections don’t matter, or that their vote isn’t going to make a difference in an election. But in 2014 for the state of Texas, that couldn’t be further from the truth. If Texans show up to the polls during Early Voting and on Election Day, they will have Wendy Davis as Governor. And that decision could result in a living wage for literally millions of people. This time, it’s just too important to sit out.
‘Can’t survive on $7.25?’ Then vote for Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte. Vote for $10.10.