The $15 Question


Gabriela Carvajal, Web Manager

   Paper cuts, cleaning harmonies, and ‘special’ customers. The lives of working teenagers is one of stress, time management, and fun experiences. As students of Pembroke Pines Charter High School resume their roles as students (at least on campus…), many have an added variable to their equation: employment. For many, a job is their way of supporting themselves for the present and the future, as well as providing an early experience within the adult realm. For three PPCHS students, they must fight for their paychecks as they battle the current era of uncertainty. Nevertheless, the road to recovery is near as the United States opens its doors to the possibility of expanding minimum wage increases. 

   In 2021, the conversation for wage increases augmented, calling upon governments at local, state, and national levels to restructure the current wage benchmarks. At a micro-level this is great progress as inflation and living necessities have taken a dip in the expensive direction. For sophomore Amaya Mateo “the minimum wage should be raised [since] everything is [increasing] and it’s just not a sustainable source of income.” What’s interesting is that as minors there are state restrictions employers must abide by, and as minors one can not simply work a full-time shift (i.e. 40 hour work week) frequently, as school and family responsibilities stand in the way. So, to support oneself independently it would be a challenge since most make approx. $300 a month… Even so, many students at Charter do hold part-time jobs that have generally amounted to them making $10 an hour. 

   In polling several students, many had positive remarks about their employer’s willingness to work around their schedules, some even working for their own family! For senior Chase Fong, his working experience comes at a family price as a dental assistant to his father. Comparatively to Amaya, he helps maintain the office: cleaning/setting up rooms for patients, cleaning trays and handing tools to his father; while Amaya handles traditional secretary assignments: straightening the office, organizing papers, etc. Both offer different working perspectives as they each hold different positions in the labour market, however for those working long hours during the week, such as junior Avril Lopez Gadban (and Chase), their schedules prove to be quite tiring, yet rewarding. As a cashier for Cracker Barrel, Avril experiences the ‘hidden’ society of customers and is drained every 4-6 hour shift. “At least I am learning how to deal with all sides of society…”

   As a whole, the United States has transitioned to raise the minimum wage, amidst the political obstacles that it faces. Starting from January 2021, 20 states have raised their minimum wages from the original $7.25 standard. However, at least 20 states have a minimum less than or equal to $7.25, many residing in Middle America… Conclusively, the urgency to meet the rising standards of living are not as prevalent as those in cities in California or New York who have quickly raised their wages to as much as $15! In fact, at least five states have their wages fixed at or above $13 already, serving as a glimmer of hope for those who are looking for a ‘green’ cushion. (Economic Policy Institute)

   But, for students and workers inhabiting Florida hope is on the way! Currently, Florida has a minimum wage of $8.25 and a scheduled increase is on the way: effective September 30, 2021 the minimum wage would be set at $10.00 an hour! (Economic Policy Institute)

   With the future looking bright, our working careers seem to be in the good hands of the lawmakers and voters who are taking the initiative to increase wages set to supply one with some level of comfort.