With the buying power of the Federal minimum wage at its lowest point in 55 years, five Nobel Prize-winning economists have been joined by 650 of their peers, in calling on the Republican-led Congress to increase the minimum wage. Describing the last increase almost 10 years ago as now “fully eroded,” the economists said that they agree with a report written in 1999 by the Council of Economic Advisors declaring that “modest increases in the minimum wage have had very little or no effect on employment.”
“We believe that a modest increase in the minimum wage would improve the well-being of low-wage workers and would not have the adverse effects that critics have claimed,” the economists wrote in a paper delivered this week on a conference call hosted by the Economic Policy Institute, an economic research group based in Washington, D.C.
Most minimum wage jobs are local service jobs which can’t be moved and which have to be done. (The toilets have to stay unplugged, the garbage picked up and the burgers flipped.) Minimum wage employees are not mostly kids – most are adults, and when you have a low minimum wage the government winds up picking up a huge tab for emergency medical care and other social services, especially for their kids. (Since we’re willing to let adults starve and die writhing in pain because they’re too poor to afford their meds, but we like to at least pretend to help their kids.)
I’ll add that the correlation to high executive pay and poor economic performance is significant – while there is actually a correlation between high minimum wages and good economic performance. Maybe we should be mandating maximum salaries instead? Say, oh, a hundred times what you pay your lowest paid contracted employee… anywhere in the world?