This report is from the libertarian Cato Institute.
A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that significant minimum wage increases can hurt the very people they are intended to help. Authors Jeffrey Clemens and Michael Wither find that significant minimum wage increases can negatively affect employment, average income, and the economic mobility of low-skilled workers. The authors find that significant “minimum wage increases reduced the employment, average income, and income growth of low-skilled workers over short and medium-run time horizons.” Most troublingly, these low-skilled workers saw “significant declines in economic mobility,” as these workers were 5 percentage points less likely to reach lower middle-class earnings in the medium-term. The authors provide a possible explanation: the minimum wage increases reduced these workers’ “short-run access to opportunities for accumulating experience and developing skills.” Many of the people affected by minimum wage increases are on one of the first rungs of the economic ladder, low on marketable skills and experience. Working in these entry level jobs will eventually allow them to move up the economic ladder. By making it harder for these low-skilled workers to get on the first rung of the ladder, minimum wage increases could actually lower their chances of reaching the middle class.
Most of the debate over a minimum wage increase centers on the effects of an increase on aggregate employment, or the total number of jobs and hours worked that would be lost. A consensus remains elusive, but the Congressional Budget Office recently weighed in, estimating that a three year phase in of a $10.10 federal minimum wage option would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers by the time it was fully implemented. Taken with the findings of the Clemens and Wither study, not only can minimum wage increases have negative effects for the economy as a whole, they can also harm the economic prospects of low-skilled workers at the individual level.
With that in mind, I have some bad news for everyone who likes the idea of young people of color finding work.
The Daily Signal explains: (H/T Dad)
At the stroke of midnight today, 19 states increased their minimum wage. Residents of three more and the nation’s capital can expect hikes later on this year.
[…]Federal legislation was met with resistance. though. Republicans argued raising the minimum wage would cause an increase in prices for consumers and low-wage workers likely would face layoffs as companies grappled with the higher costs associated with hiked wages.
Some of those concerns were validated last month by a University of California, San Diego, study. For three years, researchers followed low-income workers residing in states that saw wage hikes and those that did not. The study found that minimum wage hikes had negative impacts on employment, income and income growth.
[…]“Minimum wage supporters have good intentions, but those good intentions cannot repeal the law of unintended consequences,” James Sherk, an expert in labor economics at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal. He added:
Minimum-wage increases reduce the total earnings of low-wage workers — the higher pay for some workers gets completely offset by the nonexistent pay of those no longer employed.
In its study, UCSD researchers found that after minimum-wage increases, the national employment-to-population ratio decreased by 0.7 percent points between December 2006 and December 2012.
In addition, the study found that minimum-wage increases hindered low-skilled workers’ ability to rise to lower-middle -lass earnings.
So we need to be really careful about setting economic policy based on emotions. Things that sound nice, which we feel will help the poor, actually hurt the poor. We have to have evidence-driven public policy, not feelings-driven public policy. People’s lives are depending on it.