Minimum wage and seniors: About 14 percent of minimum wage workers are over 55 and would obviously benefit from a $15 minimum. Most seniors have family members who are working, and about 40 percent of workers make less than $15 per hour.
Many seniors are providing housing and other necessities for family members whose wages are too low for them to live on their own. Other seniors are dependent on family members for support, in the form of housing, monetary assistance or caregiving.
Low-wage workers are hard-pressed to assist their elders. Another set of seniors are dependent on in-home or nursing home caregivers who would benefit from a $15 wage. Better paid caregivers provide more consistent, quality care.
Crime, violence, housing instability and homelessness plague low-wage neighborhoods where many seniors live. Seniors' safety will improve with higher wages for their neighbors. Prices will rise somewhat with big raises in the minimum wage, but seniors typically get cost of living raises every year. Today's workers pay directly into the Social Security fund, which directly pays today's seniors. Higher wages strengthen the Social Security trust fund.
This article was written by Jamie Partridge, chief petitioner for the $15 minimum wage ballot measure. It was originally published by The Oregonian on Sunday, February 7, 2016.