Desperate Democrats, who are struggling with the continuing collapse of their signature healthcare law, are digging around in the political basement to bring-up issues they hope will rev their base in this election year. The most cynical of these tired political tricks is the perennial debate over raising the minimum wage; it is a repeat performance for politically needy liberals. The first order of business for then-newly-elected Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in 2007 was to hike the minimum wage, which a politically weakened President George W. Bush signed. The result: nothing improved for folks who Democrats tried to fool into believing they could live and raise a family on the minimum wage. In fact, according to the Employment Policies Institute, the Federal Minimum Wage increased over 40% from 2007-2009, due to Democratic Congressional policies. The result: over 550,000 part-time jobs were lost during this same period of time.
In spite of populist rhetoric from politicians of both parties, minimum wage jobs are not instrumental in supporting American families. In fact, roughly 16% of minimum wage earners are attempting to support a family on their income, while the remaining 80% + are students and teenagers who are working minimum-wage jobs as an entry to the workforce. While I do believe that steps should be taken to aide those 16% of minimum wage earners who are attempting to raise a family, raising the minimum wage is the worst possible policy. Providing earned income tax credits, child tax credits and educational access would serve them better than hiking the minimum wage, which is actually very likely to result in the loss of the already low-paying job that they have. This also goes for entry-level workers like teenagers and college students: they are less likely to get an entry-level minimum wage job if the minimum wage is hiked, meaning they cannot obtain the experience required to achieve higher-paying positions. In fact, the Employment Policies Institute has reported that for every 10% increase in the minimum wage, there is a corresponding 5-9% increase in teenage unemployment.
In summary, raising the minimum wage will not achieve the purpose stated by politicians. While I firmly believe that more needs to be done to help Americans struggling with stagnant incomes and decreasing economic opportunity, more government mandates aren’t the answer. Improving America’s business climate, by lowering taxes, reducing government spending and rolling-back overregulation is a much better solution to stagnant incomes than just another law that attempts to force businesses to pay entry-level workers a slightly higher starting income. Government mandates can never create jobs; they always impede their availability.
America simply cannot thrive economically by creating more minimum wage jobs, even if that minimum wage is higher. We are not a minimum nation, and we shouldn’t settle for keeping people in minimum wage jobs. I oppose raising the minimum wage, because I believe that it is a policy that will further deteriorate this nation’s economic elevators. We need to preserve the purpose of the minimum wage: to provide entry-level income until folks can obtain the skills necessary to move-up the jobs latter, which most do within 12 months of being hired. Our policies should be focused at improving employment that pays beyond the minimum wage, not fighting a purely political battle that plays to the Democrat’s class-warfare populism.