With the Democrat party controlling both houses of Congress and the White House there is a good chance that the federal minimum wage will be raised from $7.50/hr. to $15.00/hr. The drumbeat argument from the left has been no one should work for less then a living wage. I agree that all people should be given the opportunity to earn a living wage and the statistics prove that most do. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) approximately 1.9% of hourly wage earners make at or below the federal minimum wage. Another argument being made is that it disproportionately impacts minorities, again looking at the statistics we see this is not true. According to the BLS White represent 72.6% at or below, 49% are women. Black or African Americans represent 17.9%, women are 11.4%.
Is there an argument for raising the minimum wage, yes. The minimum wage has not been raised since 2009 and there should be some increase. The problem is that, like everything else they do, the federal government tends to discount tomorrow. The current bill will slowly raise the rate to $15.00/hr. over time, then what. The rate should have a built-in escalation provision that is tied to inflation, or the cost of living, or something.
The next area we must explore in the numbers is who is being impacted. To be exact those listed by the BLS by age shows that the majority, 43.1% are 16-to-24-year old’s, follow by 25% who are between 25 to 34 years old. Another way to look at this is that most of those who would benefit from an increase are those still in high school or just post-secondary education. Those with occupational education make up the least at 3.6%. Remember this is based on those paid hourly not the total working population.
The answer to low wage jobs is not to force an increase on business owners who can little afford it but to encourage an economy that will, through competition, pay higher rates. Stop trying to force a system that does not help those seeking to live a better life but to set the conditions where people have opportunity and a clear path to success on their terms.