The minimum wage has been increased, but I remain amazed how people pay for the rising cost of rent, eggs, and prescriptions on only $500 per week — minus taxes. Our lawmakers need to pass House Bill 25, raising wages further and tying them to inflation; this is why.
First of all, keep your financial debates. I’m a physician trained in workplace and public health, and I witness firsthand how inadequate wages hurt our people. My own clinic welcomes workers with a range of skills, social status, and compensation. Their desires are universal and simple — to perform well in a job they are good at, and to take home enough in their pockets to care for themselves and the people they love.
But just look at medical and public health research: Low pay is connected to job dissatisfaction, poor self-esteem, absenteeism, and provokes the biological stress response, leading to pain, headaches, fatigue, poor sleep, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal disease, immune compromise, musculoskeletal disorders, anxiety, depression, and increased workplace injuries. Is that enough?
And do we need research to convince us how illness follows an empty wallet? Anyone who’s had one knows. Also, poor worker health is expensive for everyone, and will become more expensive every year, but the essential work of feeding, cleaning, caring for, educating, and building our state will be paid in progressively lower real terms by employers whose businesses survive by racing to the bottom.
So why replay this debate every time inflation takes the money from our pockets? Pass House Bill 25, raise and index the minimum wage to inflation, relieve our stress, and be done. Personally, I want to care for my worker-patients knowing their ailments are not caused by something as non-medical, as unjust, and as preventable as an empty wallet after a full day’s work.