The current U.S. minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Some states have legislated a higher in-state minimum.
Until recently, California and Massachusetts have had the highest minimum rates in the country at $10 per hour. But on March 31, California passed a law to gradually increase their minimum wage for all workers to $15 per hour by 2022. The state of New York quickly followed suit with a $15 minimum wage of their own.
The huge increase in minimum wages is a risky decision filled with potential negative consequences. For policy makers, the consequences may be unanticipated. But for economists and business people, many of the consequences will be anticipated.
For Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Manhattan, the effects of a $15 minimum wage should be mitigated by an already high market wage and cost of living. For agriculture, public schools, small towns, hospitals and fixed income recipients, the impacts will be devastating. Workers with low skills or little experience (many young and uneducated) will have more difficulty getting and keeping a job.
Employers and workers will make adjustments to the higher wage rates. Some employers may go out of business. Others could cut the number of workers, automate jobs previously performed by workers (technology including robotics) or relocate to lower cost states.
Higher hourly earnings will encourage potential workers without a job to try to enter or re-enter the workforce. Both of these influences will cause the unemployment rate to increase. Also, the $15 hourly wage is not internationally competitive. We can expect more companies to move facilities overseas and more outsourcing for domestic firms.
In the kingdom of God, we receive eternal wages and eternal rewards. Our salvation is not related to works; we cannot earn our salvation. But rewards are determined by our works.
"He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit that leads to eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together" (John 4:36, MEV).
"Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me to give to each one according to his work" (Rev. 22:12, MEV).
The Word says a lot about rewards. We are told to be careful (diligent, cautious) so as not to lose (throw away, destroy) all that we have worked for, that we may (persevere until we) receive a full reward.
"Watch yourselves, so that we do not lose those things for which we have worked, but that we receive a full reward" (2 John 1:8, MEV).
We are given activities, situations and trials that, when following biblical injunctions, will be rewarded. Specifically, these include:
- Persecution for righteousness (Matt. 5:12)
- Charitable deeds (Matt. 6:1)
- Prayer (Matt. 6:6)
- Fasting (Matt. 6:18)
- Respect for ministers and righteous people (Matt. 10:41)
- Helpfulness to Christians (Mark 9:41)
- Loving and helping your enemies (Luke 6:35)
- Assisting in bringing the lost to Christ (1 Cor. 3:8)
- Building works which endure (1 Cor. 3:14)
In fact, whatever we do, if we will do it heartily (from the soul—the mind, will and emotions) for the Lord, we will receive a reward. This would include all of our activities; our family life, our church life and our vocations. Motives are critical. Our eyes must be on our King and not man. He must be the subject of our focus and motivation.
"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. For you serve the Lord Christ" (Col. 3:23-24, MEV).
Dr. James R. Russell is professor of economics and chair of the Undergraduate College of Business at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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