Thoughts on the Minimum Wage

Some interesting facts and figures have jumped out at me as I've done a study of the poor and how they would be affected by the Minimum Wage. A more efficient way to help the poor is through the Earned Income Tax Credit. Click "Read More" to read about that, plus a few other of my (hopefully coherent) ramblings on the subject.

I know someone whose husband left her, and if she isn't making the minimum wage as the now-sole breadwinner in her family, she's making pretty close to it. She has no phone. She has no car. Her oldest son is in and out of trouble with the law all the time. Would she be better off with more financial means? In every way. And I think there should be a way to help her become financially more well off and on the road to self-sufficiency.

Utah currently pegs its Minimum Wage to the Federal one. This to me is a State not taking care of its responsibilities, and expecting the Federal government to do its business for it.

I'm not sure why we want a Federal Minimum Wage anyway. Considering that the Constitution ensures that the Federal government will promote the "general welfare", how does a federal minimum account for the fact that the cost of living is about twice as high in California (and nearly three times in New York City) as it is in Alabama? This is an issue that should be taken care of on a state-by-state basis.

When the minimum wage is raised from $5.15 to $6.20 and then to $7.25, what happens to those who make just barely above the new minimum thresholds? Do they get raises, too? How does this affect small businesses, who are the least likely to be able to afford to pay higher wages? Do they decide to hire illegal aliens, who are not covered by wage laws?

Nearly all of those making the minimum wage currently will not be making that wage very long. The following comes from the Employment Policies Institute:

Virtually all minimum wage employees will see their incomes rise as they increase their value to employers by gaining skills through experience. Analysis of US Census Bureau data shows the median raise these employees receive is six times higher than that of employees earning above the minimum wage.

Raising the minimum wage prices certain populations out of the market--those who are no longer worth whatever the minimum wage has become. Most often that population contains youth who, in the absence of employment, involve themselves in gangs and other destructive activity.

There are better ways, such as tax credits and eliminating sales tax on food, to help poor families. Nearly 85% of those making the minimum wage live in families that are far above anything considered poor. They may want the help, but they don't need it. It would be better to concentrate on the 15% of minimum wage earners and their families who DO need it.

Earned income tax credits reduce or eliminate the tax burden of low-income families. They can even be structured such that they become a subsidy to low-income workers. Earned income tax credits are a much better way to help those who really are in financial dire straits, while not harming the economy in general, and small businesses and less-skilled workers in particular.

Very few Utahns as a percentage earn the minimum wage. Only 9% of the Utahns who make the minimum wage are sole wage earners in their families. If we really want to help them, and I think we do, an earned-income tax credit seems to be the best way to go.

For several reasons I do not support a Minimum Wage. But the most important reason is that there are better ways to help the people who need our financial help the most.


  1. The reason we have to have a federal minimum wage is that some state governments, as you point out, are irresponsible.

    By my calculations, a single person earning minimum wage can collect an Earned Income Tax Credit of $55 a year. Why, that's almost enough to buy a new duffel bag to keep all your worldly possessions in.

  2. I agree that some states are irresponsible.

    We need to fix the EITC so that it gives them what they need. (See my more detailed comments on OneUtah).

  3. Dear Legislator,

    Please VOTE NO on Senate Bill 184, Revisions to Child Support sponsored by Senator Lyle Hillyard.

    This bill aims to include in the definition of 'child support' attorney fees associated with obtaining a 'child support order'. It is important to read the proposed legislation to better understand the implications. There is a definition for 'child support' which is an elenment in the defining of a 'child support order'. It is important to read and understand the nuances in the definitions of both. This bill represents the interests of attorneys and ORS, not the best interest of the child. VOTE NO on this bill.

    Here is the concern.
    This bill (as proposed) will benefit attorneys that represent the custodial parent in child support disputes and works against a losing party if attorney fees are assessed as included in the definition of 'child support' as oppossed as only a 'debt' owed. Support diputes regularly result in a new 'child support order'. Currently, In a 'child support order' there will be terms addressing attorney fees as separate from 'child support' monetary payments. (See the definitions of both) This is proper as ORS has a duty only to address monies associated directly with 'child support', including health insurance, monetary support from calculated tables, arrears, and unfortunately any 'alimony' ordered. [I disagree that 'alimony' should have been included in the definition of 'child support' as alimony is completely separate from 'child support' calcuations.] The changes in this bill would allow an attorney to join the gravy train by perhaps justifying that since alimony can be included in the definition of 'child support' then attorney's fees should as well. The motive for this move is clear. It is to avail the attorney to the collection services of ORS. This is a clear erroneous and a misconstruction of intention of 'child support' monetary payment and collection.

    Case history in other states has shown a concern that attempts to attach attorney fees to 'chid support' collection methods have the propensity to cause serious consequences. For example, Texas law supports that attorney fees may only be awarded as costs enforceable by debt and further prohibits the imprisoning of a person for private debt. This is signifcant because If attorney fees are awaded as 'child support', those fees are then not viewable as 'debt' any longer by statutory definition and are not subject to the laws govening debt, but by the laws governing 'child support'. In this scenario the 'attorney fees' would then be enforced by 'contempt orders' - including possible imprisonment for the 'child support' owed (which now contains the attorney's fees). The characterization of attorney fees as 'child support' will permit the court in a contempt hearing to issue an order withholding earnings for such 'attorney fees' through the use of ORS and its remedies up to and and possibly including imprisonment. Finley v. May, 154 S.W.3d 196 [Tex.App.-2004]. This would be an erroneous application of the intent of 'child support' definitions and way to circumvent current debt processes and legal remedies of such.

    There must be a distinction between assessment of 'attorney fees' to be levied as included in 'child support' when seeking to 'enforcing an order' (This is more akin to a contempt of court charge and related fee) and assessing 'attorney fees' when seeking modification suits' where the obligor has not yet been found in contempt. In many 'child support' cases, the issue is over a controversy of calculation of earnings - these cases would fall under 'modification suits'. However, under the proposed legislation, a 'modification suit' that awards 'attorney fees' could easily be misconstued as a suit seeking to 'establish a new support order'. In the latter case, attorney fees would automatically be assessed as 'child support' obligations that ORS would then be engaged to collect.

    Vote NO on this proposal. (see proposed bill below)

    See: for more information.


    Jeff Rifleman
    Director of Communications
    Men and Fathers for Justice

    S.B. 184




    Chief Sponsor: Lyle W. Hillyard

    House Sponsor: ____________

    9 General Description:
    10 This bill adds attorney fees incurred in obtaining a child support award to the
    11 definitions of child support.
    12 Highlighted Provisions:
    13 This bill:
    14 . adds attorney fees incurred in obtaining a child support award to the definitions of
    15 child support.
    16 Monies Appropriated in this Bill:
    17 None
    18 Other Special Clauses:
    19 None
    20 Utah Code Sections Affected:
    21 AMENDS:
    22 62A-11-401, as last amended by Chapter 161, Laws of Utah 2000
    24 Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
    25 Section 1. Section 62A-11-401 is amended to read:
    26 62A-11-401. Definitions.
    27 As used in this part and in Part 5:

    28 (1) "Business day" means a day on which state offices are open for regular business.
    29 (2) "Child" is defined in Section 62A-11-303 .
    30 (3) "Child support" means a base child support award as defined in Subsection
    31 78-45-2 (4), or a financial award for uninsured monthly medical expenses, ordered by a tribunal
    32 for the support of a child, including current periodic payments, all arrearages which accrue
    33 under an order for current periodic payments, and sum certain judgments awarded for
    34 arrearages, medical expenses, and child care costs. Child support includes:
    35 (a) obligations ordered by a tribunal for the support of a spouse or former spouse with
    36 whom the child resides if the spousal support is collected with the child support[.]; and
    37 (b) attorney fees incurred in establishing a child support order.
    38 (4) "Child support order" or "support order" means a judgment, decree, or order,
    39 whether temporary, final, or subject to modification, issued by a tribunal for child support and
    40 related costs and fees, interest and penalties, income withholding, [ attorneys'] attorney fees, and
    41 other relief.
    42 (5) "Child support services" is defined in Section 62A-11-103 .
    43 (6) "Delinquent" or "delinquency" means that child support in an amount at least equal
    44 to current child support payable for one month is overdue.
    45 (7) "Immediate income withholding" means income withholding without regard to
    46 whether a delinquency has occurred.
    47 (8) "Income" is defined in Section 62A-11-103 .
    48 (9) "Jurisdiction" means a state or political subdivision of the United States, a territory
    49 or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia , the Commonwealth of Puerto
    50 Rico, an Indian tribe or tribal organization, or any comparable foreign nation or political
    51 subdivision.
    52 (10) "Obligee" is defined in Section 62A-11-303 .
    53 (11) "Obligor" is defined in Section 62A-11-303 .
    54 (12) "Office" is defined in Section 62A-11-103 .
    55 (13) "Payor" means an employer or any person who is a source of income to an obligor.


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