President Obama's call for the federal minimum wage to be raised to $9.00 was hailed as a "bold step." I must dissent from this opinion. I think it is important for the United States' minimum wage (and other employment benefits) to be compared to those in other Western democratic market economies, particularly English-speaking ones.
So here is a comparison, after the jump:
In Canada, it averages about $10.00 per hour, depending on the province, for an experienced adult worker, with the Canadian dollar trading at equal to the U.S. dollar currently.
In Ireland, it is €8.65 per hour for an experienced adult worker, which translates into $11.59 per hour at current exchange rates.
In the United Kingdom, the minimum wage for an adult worker 21 years old and older is £6.19 an hour, which at the current exchange rate is equal to $9.59 per hour.
In New Zealand, it is $13.50 per hour for an adult worker, which at current exchange rates is equal to $11.59 per hour in U.S. currency.
In Australia, the minimum wage is $15.96 per hour for an experienced adult worker, which is equal to $16.44 per hour in the United States.
The detractors says two main things: it will destroy jobs and that the cost of living is higher in these other countries. The first one has never been demonstrated to be true in the history of minimum wage hikes in the U.S.; and to the second, I have this to say:
The other countries in the English-speaking world all have health care for all citizens, not just workers.
And don't forget maternity leave and retirement are guaranteed benefits, too. EDIT: In my old age, I forgot to mention "sick leave" to that long list of guaranteed benefits.
And I don't think they allow employers in those countries to take a worker's retirement pension as part of a bankruptcy or "retention bonus" scheme, like we do here in the United States.
So, if we are really going to compare the United States' guaranteed wages and benefits, by all means let's do that. Because raising the minimum wage would be merely a start toward our coming into line with the values of the rest of the Western world -- particularly the English-speaking world -- which is who we really ought to be comparing ourselves to.
EDIT: Thanks everyone for making this part of the Recommended List!