I had a sleepy nighttime lightbulb.
If we are going to argue that gov't benefits allow employers to pay lower wages because citizens are being subsidized, couldn't we make a similar and fun argument that the ready availability of consumer lines of credit (credit cards, helocs, heck even ODP-LOCs, and let's not even look at other, less savory lending options like payday loans) also allow employers to pay lower wages than their employees can truly live on? At least temporarily - really depends on how the math plays out, how much credit, minimum payments and so on, so let's just go back to 2007 when everyone could get shit tons of credit if they crossed their legs and smiled.
When credit is readily available and in large quantities to the average consumer, he or she is enabled to live beyond their actual monetary-hard-earned-cash means. Depending on how one does it, one could rely on a (not-insignificant) credit line on a regular basis to supplement and/or fill dietary needs, purchase clothes, and in other ways fulfill the basic needs of a person or family unit. As long as one is making at least the minimum payment, and we could even be generous and assume that sometimes one pays extra, regular, long-term/sustained use of credit to supplement income (supplement though - only supplement) is quite possible and does allow the average consumer to live outside/above their technical means (minimum payments are generally a fraction of the line balance unless you barely owe anything on the line; so long as the min pay remains less than the amount of credit used each month, which is possible without necessarily forcing the balance to balloon up to/past the credit allowance on a short-term time frame - IF you are not using the credit rashly, which you wouldn't if you're using it for those extra groceries you need but debit just can't swing this month) as provided by their employer.
So really, what I'm saying is, let's blame the banks.
JK JK JK, lots of factors including consumerist culture, but let me know what you think of this thought. Am I crazy? Can't widely available and universally accepted credit also be considered a mechanism which does, in a sneaky way, allow for employers to pay lower wages?
Wanna dig up some historical data of wage rates during credit booms and see whether any, especially low-income or low-barrier-to-employment, pay rates were impacted in any way? Could be fun to take a look. Maybe I'm just nuts.
But hey, if we are going to argue that getting things for free or reduced price subsidizes lower rates, then we do have to admit that credit enables that readily. And credit is real easy for most people to get.
Credit: Buy Now, Pay Later.