01.14.2015 1

Raising the minimum wage: Figures don’t lie, but liars figure

By Don Todd

minimum wage spikeBoth the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are strong proponents of raising the minimum wage.  For instance on July 18, 2012, Mary Kay Henry the President of SEIU emailed her members the following: “Together with organizations like the National Employment Law Project, CREDO, and Moms Rising, the 99 percent are uniting to tell Congress it’s time to raise the federal minimum wage Join with us for our Rise Up Summer, and together we can put more money in the hands of the 99 percent.”

Henry also praised the recent vote by the Seattle City Council to raise the minimum wage stating that the “members of SEIU are tremendously inspired by today’s breakthrough vote by the Seattle City Council to lift the wage floor there to $15 per hour.” (For further examples, just Google UFCW or SEIU and minimum wage.)  In the face of years of experience that price fixing by the government distorts the market, unions produce all kinds of charts, graphs and a multitude of bought-and-paid-for “studies” that say it isn’t so.

For instance on October 16, 2014, the union financed Economic Policy Institute, which receives funding from both SEIU and UFCW, issued a policy paper on raising the federal minimum wage.  The paper points to academic studies “proving,” the positive effects of labor price fixing.

In the same vein, working hand and glove with the unions, the Department of Labor has produced an entire web page devoted to the notion that raising the minimum wage will have nothing but positive effects.

This is similar to the current Administration’s shills in the media and elsewhere proclaim at every opportunity that the economy is booming when in fact a smaller percentage of people are working than at any time since Jimmy Carter enacted similar policies.

The disastrous effects of the minimum wage are all around us making one wonder should you believe the “studies” or you own eyes.

There was a time not-too-distant past when what we now call gas stations were more commonly referred to as service stations.  One would pull into a station and a young attendant would come to your car window and ask how much gasoline in dollar amounts you wished to purchase.  While the gas was pumping the attendant would wash your windows, check your tire pressure oil, radiator, and other fluid levels.

During the same time period it was the rule in a supermarket that what was then called a “bag boy” would not only bag your groceries but carry them out to your car and load them into your trunk.

All these stepping stone jobs have disappeared largely because of the government’s intrusions in the labor market including minimum wage on the state and federal level.

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report published on December 5, 2014, the unemployment rate for teenagers aged 16 to 19 is 17.7 percent and has been as high as 23 percent in the last several months. Many of our young have been deprived of that first job that teaches them what it is like to have a job and how one must behave to keep one.

It is estimated that 5.6 million youth are disconnected from the labor market, meaning that they not working, not looking for work.

This is a human and societal tragedy and you don’t need a union-bought study to realize it.

Don Todd is the director of research of Americans for Limited Government.

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