The $15 minimum wage sweeping the nation might kill jobs — and that’s okay

Discussion in 'News / Current Events' started by Revmitchell, Apr 9, 2016.

  1. Revmitchell

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    Feb 18, 2006
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    This has been, it’s fair to say, an absolutely bonkers week for minimum wage hikes.

    California decided to raise the state's floor to $15 an hour statewide by 2022. The biggest employer in Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, announced it was raising its minimum wage to $15 by 2021. Last night, New York State leaders cut a deal to get to $15 within three years in New York City and six years in Long Island and Westchester, and $12.50 within five years in the rest of the state. After a Montgomery County Council member announced a new $15 wage proposal Thursday as well, there are nowabout a dozen live $15 campaigns around the country.

    With each new mandate, of course, come warnings of a job apocalypse. "While raising the minimum wage sounds compassionate, it will probably hurt the very workers its advocates want to help," writes the Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk, bemoaning the District of Columbia’s $15 proposal.

    In response, advocates for the higher wages have been careful to say that with a couple exceptions, studies show that minimum wage hikes to date have not meaningfully affected employment. Even $15 in a few years is not likely to change that, they point out. And besides, at higher wage levels, lower turnover costs would allow businesses to retain staff, and the increased disposable income for low-wage workers would create more jobs in the community.

    California Governor Jerry Brown, legislators and labor leaders reach a deal to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour over time. (Reuters)
    Of course, advocates have an incentive to make that argument: Especially in less economically dynamic places than California and New York City, even admitting that a proposal could kill jobs is politically risky.

    But even defenders will admit that eventually, as the minimum wage keeps rising past its historical high-water mark, it’s possible that some jobs could be lost. You hear the phrase "uncharted waters" a lot, because anything could happen. That’s why some liberal economists, such as the Economic Policy Institute, have only gone so far as to endorse a national hike up to $12 an hour by 2020. Liberal-ish columnists have been especially skeptical.
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