Missing the mark on the minimum wage

 

In a Feb. 19 column, “An honest pay,” Ronald Dixon writes of President Barack Obama’s call to raise the federal minimum wage, citing the economic benefits of such an increase with nary a mention of any possible drawbacks. To support his point, Mr. Dixon cites “economist” Jared Bernstein but doesn’t mention that Bernstein has any formal training in economics nor that he was Vice President Joe Biden’s chief economist and economic policy adviser until 2011.

While it’s not surprising to hear that an adviser advocates the same position as the politician who appointed him, I was surprised to see that no mention was made of actual economic research on this topic.

Interested readers may wish to consult “Revisiting the Minimum Wage-Employment Debate: Throwing Out the Baby with the Bathwater?” by David Neumark, J. M. Ian Salas and William Wascher who argue, in part, that “minimum wages pose a trade-off of higher wages for some against job losses for others.” These “others,” as the study concludes, are often teenagers and people working their first job.

Like Dixon, I believe that the best America is one that sees citizens living happily and being able to take care of their families. That said, I don’t believe the hardship of making relatively little money for working an entry-level job is necessarily an undue one. On the contrary, I can imagine no better incentive to get ahead than for work typically taken up by high school students to be unattractive to adults.