To the editor:

I wanted to take the opportunity to respond to Mr. Bruce R. Sherrill’s piece in The Messenger (March 20 edition).

While Mr. Sherrill spent most of his time belittling my education and encouraging me to take some courses in economics — which I am just a few months from having a minor in — most of his claims ignore the problem that I analyzed: poverty due to stagnated wages.

Ironically, Mr. Sherrill provided no data in his piece, while I provided statistics and sources for the community.

Mr. Sherrill says that increasing the wage will “increase prices” and “reduce staffing” so I will provide a brief response to these two claims, which he provided no sources for and are likely just generalized assumptions not backed by leading economic experts who support raising the wage.

First of all, the claim that raising the minimum wage will “raise prices” is a bit misleading. Is Mr. Sherrill speaking of groceries? This is illogical considering the USDA itself has recognized a nearly 4% increase annually in prices for beef and other grocery products.

Mr. Sherrill’s concerns about inflation are already happening — without the minimum wage being increased. If anything, Mr. Sherrill simply recognizes that inflation is a supporting factor for raising the wage.

Second, I do not refute the claim that raising the minimum wage will lead to low-skilled jobs cutting back their staff. However, it might “behoove” Mr. Sherrill to read the proposed infrastructure spending bill by the Biden administration. Under this plan, rural areas like Hopkins County would see significant investment into high-paying jobs and skills education. There is no reason our local economies should remain resistant to new industries and new investments.

The national economy continues to shift towards professional and tech services, while our local community continues fall behind. So, should minimum wage jobs leave, policymakers must work to welcome in new industries and skills training programs to meet the demands of a modern, globalized economy.

I believe that if Hopkins County residents were polled, on one simple question: Should the minimum wage be increased? The answer would be an overwhelming “yes.”

We may all disagree on what the new wage should be, but for Mr. Sherrill to outright reject any increase to the minimum wage is overtly self-absorbed and cannot possibly be an opinion rooted in fact nor economics.

Again, the time to raise the minimum wage is now. To anybody that disagrees, I ask you this: could you raise a child — achieve your goals — find new opportunities — and remain healthy on less than $13,000 annually after taxes?

Brandon Cooper

student at University of Louisville

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