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Monday, April 23, 2018


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.”

Image: Economic Policy Institute 

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7 Responses to It’s Not Just For Teenagers: Busting The Myths About The Minimum Wage

  1. The minimum should be raised to $10.00 immediately. Then it should go
    up $1.00 each year until it reaches $15.00. If you are going to work,
    you should be paid a fair wage.

  2. Fifty years ago we respected and valued people for their willingness to work hard and do their best. Now Americans worship wealth instead, why else would an asshole like Trump ever be asked his opinion on anything. Those thirty-five year olds who now work for minimum wage are the sons and daughters of those who used to assemble automobiles and make steel, but we decided we preferred low prices to a vigorous economy and shipped those jobs away. Cheap consumer goods have cost this country a great deal, and it is not even over yet. Bashing the worker while worshipping the wealthy is just plain sick.

  3. When the minimum wage was first introduced during the GOP’s Great Depression, unemployment was about 19 percent. In the summer of 1941 (fiscal year 1941 ended June 30), before we became involved in World War II, unemployment was 9,9 percent.

    There is no way of telling how much the minimum wage contributed to such a fantastic drop in unemployment, but we can know for certain that it did not do harm.

    Right winers tell us that WWII cured the Great Depression, but the war hadn’t started for the United States when employment made fantastic gains, as did the nations GDP and many other economic progresses.

    • we sold weapons and supplies to the countries at war. The war was benefiting us economically before we “entered” it!

      • I know all that, but the war assistance we gave Great Britain was a minor part of our economy. We had yet to employ millions of Americans in the military or the millions if civilians in support roles.

        There were about 17 million Americans in uniform throughout the war. Those were government jobs, but they all came after we had lowered the unemployment rate with the WPA, CCC, minimum wage, Social Security and other programs that put spending money in the pockets of American consumers..

        • Here is my most evident concern (and I’m only 45), the retired elderly on a fixed income will not get a raise. from 7.25 to 9.00 is a 24% increase. Citizens in government benefit programs will get adjusted for the rise in cost of living, the poverty line will go up. But little widow smith with her $800 a month retirement check, who barely makes ends meet, will struggle after her buying power decreases to about 3/4 of what it used to be? To boot, I fear that made in America will become less viable as the wages will transfer to the prices. I remember being a teenager in this county and working as a dishwasher making $10 an hour, and I think the minimum wage then was slightly over $5 (early 1980’s), looking at the same job now in the same county they are getting paid about $9.50. I am not looking at this in a political standpoint more so in a possible economic dismay. Back then we “made” products but now our products are too expensive and we buy the cheap overseas products because most cannot worry about quality when they need quantity (food, clothes, etc). I just wish there was a better use of our money. I see my students talking about how to get government money instead of working and it saddens me. If they would put the same effort in working hard and applying themselves they could accomplish something besides becoming dependent on our government. Instead we make excuses for this behavior or blame parents, teachers, media, etc. I see adults complaining about there is no jobs but every morning when I drive by the “work for a day get paid for a day” temp agency all I see are foreigners (I stopped one morning and talked to a few of them, they were from the islands like Jamaica and Barbados, or from Central America , there was even a Russian there, but no locals). There is no quick Band-Aid. We need as a country to plan out were we are going and start “working” to get there.
          My humble and un-researched opinion would be:
          raise import tariffs to make American goods a more viable purchase, for all those who are getting government assistance because they cannot find work (not the sick but the capable ones), have them work in a government franchised factory to produce a good, or train them to do clerical work, or daycare, etc (this will give them experience and a better resume, and I am a true believer that work is good for the soul). At the peak of our great nation we were the “makers” and shakers in this world economy (and we did this without computers and other gadgets or robotics). Yes, I know we have come a long way but so did the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Mayan, Inca, and Azteca people. I hope that we do not become a past chapter in history.

          • I share your concerns, but don’t you think that not finding Americans in the day-labor market might be the constant whining of the political right that we Americans are “exceptional” in this world? Plus, I don’t think relying on such a “career” is a healthy way to keep a vibrant economy going or to maintain law-abiding families.

            Our problems come from the one true instinct that humans have – as do all animals – and that is survival. The survival instinct gives rise to the greed that infest our society and is why some rely on government protection. It is also why those who have the most aren’t happy with having more than they will ever need; they want it all. The Koch brothers come to mind here. We normal people know when we have enough for survival and don’t need to prey on others. I think an ideal society is where everyone lives the life style they want to impose on others. If near-poverty conditions are good enough for us, they are good enough for the Kochs.

            Corporate CEOs who aren’t happy with their $25-million annual income, but must try for more by closing factories in the United States and moving jobs overseas just to get cheaper labor (and shoddier products, as you cited) are a major problem.

            Consider one of our better corporations; Boeing. Boeing gets hundreds of billions of dollars from the US government in defense contracts. It then sends a few billion overseas for parts that could be built in the United States, taking money from our economy and putting it in another country’s economy. It also opens new plants in South Carolina where it can benefit from low wages. That in turn harms the US problems of debt and deficits because workers earning near-poverty wages in the “right-to-work” South pay less Social Security taxes and may not pay any income taxes. Boeing, then pays no taxes to the United States. This corporate freeloading is behind most of our problems, and it is not surprising that young people can see this and think “why not me?” I won’t go into the “Reagan scam” that has working middle-class Americans supporting the aristocracy; that’s best for another time.

            There may be better solutions than rising tariffs or putting people to work in government factories. Educating and training them are only a minor solutions, because it is only spinning our wheels to train people for work that has been eliminated in our nation and shipped elsewhere.

            I have done the research and put it all in the book “Saving America: Using Democratic Capitalism to Rescue the Nation from Economic Folly”(Algora Publishing of New York City). I wish we could get political leaders to read it. It gives a method of solving the problems you cite without spending billions of dollars in stimulus. And it shows how Enron was “stolen” into bankruptcy by the very corporate executives we rely on to keep the economy humming. Politicians need to know how the Enron scam works because it may be in practice in all corporations that don’t pay taxes.

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