Raising the minimum wage would not only reduce the number of Americans who work full-time and still qualify for public assistance, it could also decrease violence. Wages have stagnated for decades while incomes have exploded for the top 1 percent who have taken in 95 percent of the gains of the mild recovery from the Great Recession.
Republicans who oppose President Obama’s call to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour make the argument that raising it kills jobs, though research often argues the opposite.
“Rigorous empirical studies do not show that increasing the minimum wage by an amount such as this will lead to an increase in unemployment of such workers,” writes economist Frank J. Lysy.
Proponents of the current wage level benefit from the mistaken perception that most Americans who earn the lowest possible wages are part-timers; teenagers looking for pocket money. The graphic from the Economic Policy Institute above busts those myths, pointing out that 88 percent of those who earn minimum wage aren’t teenagers: A majority work full-time and earn at least half of their family’s income.
“Full-time workers in minimum-wage jobs are poor, despite their evident willingness to work,” Lysy notes. “Even if the minimum wage is raised to $9.00 an hour from the current $7.25 an hour, as Obama has proposed, these working poor will still be earning well less than poverty-line income. And bringing the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour will only bring it back to where it was more than a half-century ago. Real GDP per capita has more than doubled over this period. Yet minimum-wage workers are currently earning 20 percent less.”
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