The last time the minimum wage was raised was in July of 2009. To put that in perspective, TV shows like Cougar Town debuted months after the wage was raised, the increase happened just six months into Barack Obama’s first term, and Twitter was just three years old.
The minimum wage raise at the time was seen as a good thing, especially since the nation was gripped in a disastrous economic recession at the time. But was it enough? On at least one issue, according to a report from NPR, raising the wage by even a dollar more could have saved tens of thousands of lives.
A study published this week in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health posits, through analysis and research, that a $1 raise in the minimum wage in each and every state could have prevented up to 27,000 suicides, if that raise had been put into place in 1990. A $2 increase could have saved as many as 57,000 lives over the 25-year span the study looked at.
This is the third such study that focused on suicides in the U.S. and the minimum wage over the course of the past year. In all three studies, the same conclusions have been reached: a raise in the base wage for working Americans could save more lives.
A new study suggests that raising the minimum wage may lower the suicide rate — and that doing so might have saved tens of thousands of people from dying by suicide in the last quarter century.https://t.co/fVjQHpcKFl
— NPR (@NPR) January 9, 2020
Even just looking at how wage growth could have changed since 2009, it’s clear to see that a modest increase could have serious impact on the lives of those who earn the least. If wages had been corrected to keep up with inflation from that time to today, for instance, a minimum wage earner working 40 hours per week across the year could see close to $3,000 more in their yearly paycheck.
Other studies have tied suicides to difficult economic situations in the past. Those facing economic hardships have been found more likely to die by suicide, according to a study cited in the Los Angeles Times. Among those hit hardest are Americans who live in rural counties.