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Thursday, May 13, 2021

OPINION: Make money or die trying

Everyone gets burnt out eating top ramen. Fast food is only interesting for so long ,and seeing all of those expensive organic vegetables at Haggen gets pretty tempting after a while. Many of us work during college making minimum wage, but shouldn’t our college education provide us with more once we graduate? In our classes, we work hard with hopes of attaining a full-time, well-paying job so we can live a comfortable life.

Earlier this week, the city of Los Angeles voted to raise its minimum wage from $9 to $15 per hour by 2020. LA is the fourth, and by far the biggest, city in the past year to enact this law following Seattle, San Francisco and Emeryville, California. The federal minimum wage is currently only $7.25 per hour, or $15,000 per year for a full time job.

Can someone actually live off of $15,000 per year? Luckily in Washington state, the statewide minimum wage is $9.47 per hour, or about $20,000 per year, which is better. But can we really live off of that little amount of money? The average mortgage of a house in Bellingham is $1,111 per month with 3.7 percent interest. With taxes and food, you’re basically working just to pay for a place to live.

It’s becoming increasingly common for college graduates to have entry level jobs that start at minimum wage. That is, if we can even find a job. Graduation for this spring is looming, and many seniors are realizing just how hard finding employment actually can be.

When our parents’ generation was emerging from college, industries were considerably different, and having a bachelor’s degree almost guaranteed a high-paying job. A lot of us are probably at Western or at other universities due to our parents’ encouragement, but is there any promise at the end of the tunnel of a high-paying job?

Degrees such as manufacturing and supply chain management have a 99 percent job placement. But what about other majors? Is it fair for students who have dedicated years to a program to be left with four or more years of debt and a minimum wage job?

Many students go through college working part-time jobs here and there, and some don’t work at all. That’s okay, because investing your time on studying is incredibly important. But this means these students won’t have much work experience or references to speak for, which heavily affects the hiring process.

So how does this relate to minimum wage? The reality is, college students aren’t promised anything once they graduate, and life gets super real once the degree is in your hands. Is it fair for a company to pay a recent graduate minimum wage who spent the past four years accruing debt and building knowledge? We don’t think so.

A college degree does not mean guaranteed employment anymore, and working doesn’t mean you’re going to have enough to live a comfortable lifestyle. We’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars to enter a workforce that doesn’t have room for us ,and if they do, they can only pay us the bare minimum. As people who are coming to see the expiration date of our college careers looming, this is scary. Are we spending all this money for nothing? Are we even going to be able to find a job that can support us once we graduate?

Moving forward, we hope companies will consider the validity of a degree and the hard work and effort that stands behind that piece of paper. Changing the minimum wage across the nation to one standard could conflict with the various economic systems, but college students deserve more than the bottom. So, articulate your qualities in a job interview and negotiate your pay. Or, just marry rich.

The editorial board is composed of Anna Jentoft, Dylan Green, Brandon Stone and Stephanie Villiers.


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