A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research conclusively shows that minimum wage hikes lead to scarcer employment for low-skilled workers. Titled, “The Minimum Wage and the Great Recession,” the study looked at three federal minimum wage increases rolled out between 2007 and 2009. The results probably won’t make a difference to any liberal who thinks these wage increases are a good idea, but they might make rational thinkers reconsider their position.
Between the dates addressed by the study, the federal minimum wage rose from a starting point of $5.15 an hour to an eventual high of $7.25 an hour. A look at how this hike affected individuals and families on the ground, though, proves that it harmed the very people it was trying to help. During the same time frame, the “employment-to-population ratio declined by 4 percentage points among adults aged 25 to 54 and by 8 percentage points among those aged 15 to 24.” Cities where the minimum wage was already higher than the federal minimum did not see the same employment reduction.
The study concluded that “binding minimum wage increases had significant, negative effects on the employment and income growth of targeted workers.”
Conservatives Aren’t Meanies
Opposition to minimum wage hikes is one of those areas where liberals love to paint conservatives as greedy, heartless soldiers of big business. That’s their spin, designed to rile up the low-information sect. The truth is that there are very good reasons to oppose minimum wage increases most of the time, and this study points out just one of them. Other studies have found that minimum wage hikes do nothing to reduce poverty, make it more difficult for new workers to gain experience, and represent unwanted government intrusion into the private sector.
Liberals want you to believe that the American dream is just a myth. And you would have to buy into that to support minimum wage increases, because it goes against everything the free market is about. You don’t have to start out wealthy to get there someday. The system is set up like a ladder. You start at the bottom. $5 an hour, $10 an hour, whatever the case may be. You start there because that’s your value to the marketplace. You have no skills. You have no education. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it just means you aren’t worth a great deal to employers.
But here’s the secret: you can increase your value! Not by marching up and down the sidewalk with a sign in your hand, but by learning new skills. By going to school. By doing more work than you’re being paid to do. This is how you start climbing that ladder. It’s how you go from making the federal minimum wage to $100,000 a year or more. It doesn’t happen through luck or politics or affirmative action; it happens as a byproduct of making yourself more valuable to the marketplace.
If liberals would spend a little more time preaching that message and a little less time raging against the machine, maybe they would finally help their constituents. But then, if they preached that message, they wouldn’t be liberals.