American Elephants

Still Misunderstanding the Minimum Wage by The Elephant's Child

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at a hearing of the Senate HELP Committee, is pushing for an increase in the minimum wage. The question is always—do these leftys understand the minimum wage and its purpose, but owe so much to the unions that they will do their bidding, or are they just clueless?

Unions want a higher minimum wage because it pushes their lowest-paid workers into a higher wage bracket. It is, effectively, a youth unemployment act, for it makes fewer jobs available.

The minimum wage worker is a beginning worker with few skills. Very few Americans actually work at the federal minimum wage: it’s only about 2.9 percent of workers. In other words 97 percent of workers earn more.
Minimum wage increases reduce the number of entry-level minimum-wage jobs available — actually harming the workers the proponents of wage increases want to help the most. It’s one of those economic paradoxes.

More than half of minimum-wage workers are between the ages of 16 and 24. These young people tend to work part-time, a majority of them are enrolled in school at the same time, so the after-school burger-flipper is more probably a college student. A hike in the minimum wage mostly raises pay for suburban teenagers.

Over two-thirds of minimum wage workers earn a raise within a year. As they gain experience and  employment skills, they become more productive and contribute more to their employer. The jobs are the very first rungs on the employment ladder. There’s lots of room to climb.

Very few single parents work full-time in minimum wage jobs. The average family income of a minimum wage worker is more than $53,000 a year. Few workers at minimum wage jobs are the primary workers in their families.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) urged the country to “heed the president’s call” to raise the minimum wage. Ms. Boxer offers internships that provide “a valuable opportunity to see how a Senate office functions” according to her website. Interns are advised that they “should dress in a professional manner befitting the representative of a U.S. Senator at all times.” Her interns are unpaid.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) “Interns in my Washington D.C. office work on a wide range of projects.” prospective applicants are told. But the young folks are on their own when it comes to expenses: “internships in my Ohio and Washington D.C. offices are unpaid. In addition, we are unable to reimburse you for parking and mileage.”

The White House too offers internships, famously. An internship is designed to mentor and cultivate today’s young leaders, strengthen their understanding of the Executive Office and prepare them for future public service opportunities” The pay is, of course, zero.

These young people come from well-to-do families who are able to fund their professional wardrobes and mileage and parking in order to gain professional skills.  Although I vaguely remember seeing something about the Labor Department making unpaid internships illegal. Laws don’t apply to Congress anyway, we know that.

Imagine your local fast-food restaurant. They are now required to prominently post the ingredients in each item with nutritional counts, which in many cases means redecorating. ObamaCare has forced them to provide health insurance unless the workers are part-time, which the government defines as 30 hours a week or less, or pay a fine. So most fast food places have reduced all their workers to part-time. Nice going, Mr. Obama. Now Obama wants to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour.

His excellency has gazed upon the  economy and found a raise for the peons to be good. With one hand he giveth and with the other he taketh away, and lo and behold, nothing improveth at all.


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